Relationship Between Sensory Processing and Perceptions of and Participation in Play and Leisure Activities Among Typically Developing Children: An Exploratory Study

Esther E. Matthews, Ted Brown, Karen Stagnitti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch


BACKGROUND: Occupational therapists often assess children's play, leisure interests, and sensory processing skills. This study explored relationships between parent-reported sensory processing factors in children 8 to 12 years old, children's self-reported perceptions of play, and children's participation in and choice of play and leisure activities.
METHODS: This cross-sectional quantitative study included children (n = 21) from regional Victoria, Australia, who were typically developing. The children indicated their participation in and choice of play and leisure activities using the Children's Leisure Assessment, and they indicated their views on their recreation using the Children's Perception of Their Play scale. The parents (n = 15) reported the children's sensory processing abilities measured by the Sensory Processing Measure. Data were analyzed with Spearman's rho correlations and linear regressions, and bootstrapping was applied to assess the accuracy of statistical results via resampling.
RESULTS: Significant positive correlations were found between vestibular skills and the variety, frequency, and preference of participation in games and sports. Sensory processing factors of social participation, vision, hearing, touch, proprioception, and praxis correlated negatively with children's value of choice within their play. Reduced proprioception was predictive of increased value of choice within play.
CONCLUSION: The sensory processing factors of balance and proprioception were predictive of participation in play and perception. Further research is recommended. [Annals of International Occupational Therapy. 2021;4(2):85–92.]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-92
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of International Occupational Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • sensory processing
  • play
  • leisure
  • children
  • paediatrics
  • occupational therapy

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