Graduation Date


Document Type

Capstone Project

Project Type

Mixed Methods

Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy

Program Chair

Julia Wilbarger, PhD, OTR/L

Faculty Advisor

Julia Wilbarger, PhD, OTR/L


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to develop and pilot a questionnaire examining the relationship between sensory defensiveness and coping strategies, as well as establish typical ratings for sensory defensiveness among the adult population. Methods: Through snowball sampling, 91 participants completed the Sensory Response Questionnaire containing 69 questions. Participants’ responses to questions concerning sensations and coping strategies in various situations indicated levels of sensory defensiveness. Levels of sensory defensiveness were determined by mean ratings: < 2 low sensory defensiveness (Low SD), 2-2.5 some sensory defensiveness (Some SD), > 2.5 moderate sensory defensiveness (Moderate SD). Discussion: Kinnealy et al. (1995), estimates that 15% of the population has some level of sensory defensiveness that impacts daily life. This number may be a slight underestimate as there were a higher percentage of participants in the Low and Moderate SD categories. Coping strategies were confirmed from previous research but are used based on specific situations. Limitations: Demographics were not generalizable to the broad adult population, access to the internet was a requirement to complete the questionnaire, and there were misunderstandings regarding proper completion of a portion of the questionnaire. Lastly, the questionnaire required participants to report accurate self-assessments to answer the questions. Conclusion: Most adults generally experience sensations that are bothersome, but those do not negatively impact daily life or occupational engagement compared to adults with moderate or definite sensory defensiveness. Occupational therapists have the unique skill set to address sensory defensiveness with clients and facilitate engagement in occupations using positive coping strategies.

IRB Number