Current Research Projects

The SPIRAL Foundation is committed to conducting research which aims to improve the lives of individuals with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and their families. Our research programs primarily contribute to improved understanding of SPD, assessment development and investigation of efficacy of treatment modalities.

If you have any questions about past or current SPIRAL Foundation research projects, or are interested in participating in any of the studies detailed below, please contact our Research Assistant, Alison Teasdale or our Research Coordinator, Olivia Easterbrooks-Dick, or 617-969-4410 ext 282.

Selected Research Projects

Feasibility and Preliminary Effectiveness of the Kinspire App

SPIRAL Foundation has been contracted by Kinspire Inc to investigate the effectiveness of their new app. The Kinspire app aims to help occupational therapists (OTs) strengthen sensory integration based occupational therapy (SI-OT) services by providing home activities that a client and their family can access via a mobile application.

The Kinspire app is designed to streamline home program recommendations and provide specific activities that are sent directly to a parent or caregiver’s mobile device. OTs invite parent/caregivers to the app, where the parent/caregiver will create a profile. The app then allows the therapist to recommend home-based activities and send them directly to your mobile device. Activities have a video or picture to demonstrate, list of materials, and ways to individualize to your child. Activities are based on OT goal areas, such as regulation, fine motor strength, gross motor coordination, dressing, and postural control. Kinspire activities vary in length from brief breathing exercises requiring no equipment to longer fine motor crafts requiring set up and clean up. Kinspire app has strong security, including complying to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to protect you and your child’s privacy.  All information shared in the app will become the property of Kinspire Inc; for example if you share information about how you or your child changed an activity to make it more enjoyable, that content will be the property of Kinspire Inc.

This initial feasibility study is designed to help SPIRAL develop a larger study to examine the effectiveness of the Kinspire app in helping children achieve SI-OT goals by providing easy access to home-program activities. We will also look at preliminary participant responses to use of the app.

Families in this study will have a child aged 2-9 years receiving SI-OT services at OTA The Koomar Center from a participating OT. Participation in the study will involve meetings to set and later score study goals, a 12-week intervention during which your family will use the Kinspire app with your child’s OT, and completing several study surveys. At this time the Kinspire app not available commercially and is only available to you by participating in this study.

SPIRAL is currently recruiting study participants. Please contact your child’s OT with questions or to learn more about how to participate in this study.


Longitudinal Follow Up Of Children with SPD 5 – 30 Years Later

(Not currently recruiting)

The Spiral Foundation has been engaged by our sister organization OTA The Koomar Center (formerly Occupational Therapy Associates and OTA – Watertown) to conduct a long-term follow-up study of former clients to better understand the stability of sensory processing patterns over time and how these difficulties impact occupational performance factors in adulthood.

We are inviting randomly selected clients discharged by OTA from 1989-2013 to participate in a four part online survey and provide authorization for the Spiral Foundation to access certain information from their clinical records at OTA the Koomar Center. Participants may choose to complete two, three or four sections of the survey in one or more sittings. Results for standardized measures used in the survey will be provided to participants upon request.

Responses to the survey will be matched with clinical data from OTA to examine the sensory processing and motor performance, quality of life, occupational performance and lived experience of adults who had sensory processing challenges as children who may or may not have received Ayres Sensory Integration intervention for these challenges.

If you receive our invitation to participate we hope that you will help by completing our survey. If you have any questions please contact the principal investigator, Teresa May-Benson or Sarah Sawyer (Clinical Director OTA The Koomar Center)


Play Skills and Praxis in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Typically Developing Peers

This collaborative research project with Dr. Heather Miller-Kuhaneck of Sacred Heart University examines the relationship between motor coordination skills and social play in young children. To be eligible for this study children must be between the ages of 3.0 to 6.0 years and either have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or be typically developing.

Families who agree to participate will make a single visit to the Spiral Foundation in Newton, MA. The parent will be asked to complete two questionnaires while a researcher completes four short motor assessments and conducts two fifteen minute play sessions with the child. The child’s assessments and play sessions are videotaped for later scoring.

Children receive a small toy such as stickers or a toy car for participating, parents may request copies of scored standardized assessments.

Currently recruiting please contact Alison with questions or to learn more about how to participate in this study.

International Differences in Sensory-Motor Performance in Adolescents and Adults

The Adult/Adolescent Sensory History (ASH) is a self-report assessment of sensory and motor behaviors commonly observed in individuals with difficulties processing and integrating sensory information aged 13-95 years. The ASH is currently only available in English with normative data for US residents. International colleagues are currently in the process of translating the ASH into several languages. In the near future individuals aged 13-95 will be invited to complete the ASH online. Information collected will be used to examine international differences in performance on the ASH and to establish local normative data for participating countries as appropriate.

Not recruiting yet, please keep checking back or sign up to our email list – an announcement will be made when different language versions of the ASH are added to the research study.

The Spiral Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and as such your donation is tax deductible.