Graduation Year


Document Type


Degree Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


Occupational Therapy


Background: Across the United States, school systems have decreased the amount of proprioceptive activities and vestibular-based movement opportunities within the school day to focus on academic skills and test score improvement (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010). Stemming from this curriculum modification, children’s free play and movement opportunities are being replaced by more sedentary experiences such as structured academic activities and screen time. As a result, elementary school students with attention deficits, especially those who have a history of prenatal drug exposure, are not receiving sufficient movement opportunities needed during the day to maximize their attention and to regulate sensory-related behaviors for optimal occupational performance (Pappas, 2011).

Purpose: The purpose of this Capstone project was to investigate the effects of participation in a community-based movement-to music program on the attention span and sensory-related behaviors of elementary school-aged children who have identified attention deficits. The hypothesis was that children who participate in a total of four guided movement-to-music sessions will demonstrate improved attention as tested by the Test of Sustained Selective Attention (TOSSA) (Kovacs, 2015) as well as decreased maladaptive sensory behaviors as reported by caregivers via the Movement Opportunities through Vestibular Engagement to Rhythm (MOVER) Caregiver Survey.

Theoretical Framework: The primary theoretical frameworks that supported the development of this Capstone project were the Person Environment Occupation (PEO) Model (Law et al., 1996) and the Ayres Sensory Integration Framework (Ayres, 1972).

Methods: This quantitative Capstone project involved nine elementary school-aged children who attended four hour-long movement-to-music sessions with a stagger stop within a period of six weeks. The Capstone project incorporated a single group pre-test/post-test design with outcomes measured by the TOSSA and the MOVER Caregiver Survey. A paired samples t-test was performed for the TOSSA subcategories of concentration strength, detection strength, response inhibition strength, and total test-taking time tolerance as well as for the MOVER Caregiver Survey total responses. In order to increase the trustworthiness of the results, qualitative data was also collected through peer debriefing and the primary investigator’s utilization of field notes and a reflexive journal. Within these documents, the primary investigator recorded observed behaviors, verbalizations, and actions of the participants.

Results: Results from the TOSSA administration data found that participation in a therapistguided movement-to-music program can significantly improve the attention of children who have attention deficits. Based on the results of the MOVER Caregiver Survey, no significant correlation was found between participation in a group-based movement-to-music program and decreased maladaptive sensory behaviors. Within the qualitative data collection, the primary investigator observed and recorded improved attention and socialization throughout the research process. The primary investigator recommends future replication studies for validating these findings.

Conclusions: This Capstone project demonstrated positive implications for occupational therapy practice and for both school and statewide policy change regarding the inclusion of vestibular and proprioceptive movement opportunities available for elementary school children, especially those who have attention deficits secondary to Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). Therapists working with children who have attention deficits should incorporate vestibular movement and proprioceptive components at the beginning of their sessions in order to promote the optimal attention and behavior needed for occupational performance throughout the session. Therapists should also consider a child’s movement opportunities when observing maladaptive sensory behaviors and attention deficits during sessions, seeking to find if movement is beneficial to help with these nonproductive sensory behaviors before assuming the children’s problems arise from defiance or lack of interest in instructed tasks.

Faculty Mentor

Camille Skubik-Peplaski

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Committee Member

Jennifer Hight

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy



First and foremost, I would like to express my greatest appreciation to Dr. Camille SkubikPeplaski for her guidance and mentorship throughout the length of this Capstone project from creation to completion. Her inspiration and feedback motivated me to strengthen my skills as a researcher and to challenge myself as a student and occupational therapist.

Advice given by Dr. Jennifer Hight has also been a great help in the editing and finalization of my Capstone report.

I wish to acknowledge the help provided by my four research assistants: Savannah Taylor, Glenna Nave, Kyle Mounger, and Patrick Long. These individuals willingly volunteered their time to assist with the implementation of the MOVER program.

I express sincere gratitude to Angie Odom, the owner of the TLC Community Center, for graciously allowing my MOVER Program to be implemented at her facility at no cost.

My special thanks are also extended to the owners of Winchester Flooring who donated carpet squares for use in the MOVER Program.

I desire to acknowledge my Applied Leadership Experience mentor, Chris McKinney, who provided me with very valuable information from his experience as a Creative Motion instructor which contributed to the creation of the MOVER Program Plan.

I am particularly grateful for the encouragement of my parents and grandparents. Their emotional and financial assistance throughout my degree pursuit has aided in my success in this program.

Finally, this journey would not have been possible without the support of my husband, Gabriel, who has made countless sacrifices to make sure I had the time and resources I needed to complete my assignments. My daughter, Callaway, has also motivated me strive for the highest and to never give up on my dreams.

IRB Approval Number (if applicable)