Project Summary

The Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program at Rocky Mountain College; Billings, MT [RMC-OTD] admits 30 students each year into their clinical doctorate program. Dr. Twylla Kirchen (Program Director, RMC-OTD), are collaborating with Dr. Alexandra Adams, Director of Center for American Indian Rural Health Equity at MSU and the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch, Billings, MT to propose beginning a longitudinal sustainable program that aims to study the effects of culturally appropriate sustainable sensory integrations strategies to Native America Youth.

Our preliminary findings from the grant Year 2020-2021 showed significant improvement in behaviors in a teacher implement- sensory integration program in a 1st grade classroom in Billings, Montana. In addition, we have held discussions with the administration at Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch and have identified needs to provide sustainable sensory integration strategies to youth admitted to their program. The objective of this study is to partner with community partners (the Ft. Belknap Head Start director and teachers, Lockwood Primary School teachers and administration; and Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch) to address significant behavioral concerns that were noted in these organization(s) during our preliminary assessment.  Our central hypothesis is that implementation of a culturally appropriate and sustainable sensory program will increase positive behaviors in children with adverse childhood experiences.

Project Aims

  1. Design a culturally appropriate sensory program in classrooms in conjunction with the classroom teachers, school administration and community advisory board (CAB) in order to promote positive behavioral outcomes.
  2. Measure readmission rates with the implementation of a sustainable sensory strategy program at a program for high-risk youth. The proposed study is significant and innovative as it will be a first study to examine the role of occupational therapy culturally appropriate and sustainable sensory program