Shelley Mulligan PhD., OTR/L received her Doctor of Philosophy, Special Education, University of Washington, in 1997; Master of Science, Occupational Therapy, Colorado State University, 1990, and Bachelor of Science, Occupational Therapy, University of Western Ontario, CAN, 1985. She currently is Associate Professor, and Chairperson, Department of Occupational Therapy, University of New Hampshire. Dr. Mulligan is also a course instructor for the Comprehensive Program Leading to Certification in Sensory Integration Evaluation and Treatment, sponsored by University of Southern California/Western Psychological Services. She has published extensively in the area of sensory integration, and her program of research involves the evaluation of sensory motor functions in children.
Current Research Projects
Early Markers Project
Collaborators: Rae Sonnenmeier, Anne Dillon, Barb White
The purpose of this study is to examine potential sensory processing behaviors, and motor behaviors that may be useful for the early detection of autism in infants at high risk for developing the disorder. This study augments current research on infant siblings of children who have been diagnosed with an ASD examining potential markers for early identification, by: a) including a standardized measure of infant/toddler sensory processing, the Infant-Toddler Sensory Profile (Dunn, 2002); and b) by examining sensory processing and functional fine and gross behaviors, and play behaviors in the context of the typical daily routines of play and feeding via videotape. The methodology developed for the analysis of the videotape including the operationalization of the sensory processing, motor, and play variables that will be coded expands upon work by Baranek, Danko, Skinner et al. (2005); and Baranek,1999. These measures are be used in addition to common standardized, developmental tests (Vineland-11; Mullen Scales of Early Learning and tests designed specficially to examine behaviors associated with ASD (Autism Observation Scale for Infants; Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale)
Progress Fall 2009: We have enrolled 16 High-risk infant siblings (infants who have a sibling diagnoses with an autism spectrum disorder) to examine potential early markers, who we have been following since 6 months of age, 12 of whom have completed the process. Pilot data along with data from a sample of typical 12 month olds have produced some promising findings related to sensory processing and motor behaviors as early markers. For example, our data indicate that the High-risk infants have slightly lower scores on the Mullen Gross Motor scale (although not statistically significant), and they have more atypical sensory processing scores on the Infant/Toddler Sensory Profile such as having a Lower Threshold for responses, and being more sensitive especially in the areas of auditory and visual processing. Videotaped coding of sensory motor behaviors during play and feeding reveal that in comparison to typical infants, the High-risk group, demonstrated more visual attending, less movement transitions, less object manipulation, and less functional and associative play. What has been particularly interesting in preliminary findings, is that although many High-risk infants that we have been following score within the normal range on standardized motor tests (Vineland; Mullen), during more unstructured play, they use less sophisticated fine and gross motor movements. During feeding, the High-risk group has demonstrated less independent spoon feeding. Our work suggests that contextual, play-based observations in conjunction with standardized developmental measures may play a vital role in early detection, and that sensory processing differences are more common in high risk infants than typical infants (research paper in progress).
For more information or to inquire about enrolling your child in the study, contact Shelley Mulligan at 862 3528, or by email.
Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests -2 Test revision and renorming
Collaborators: Erna Blanche, PhD, FAOTA, USC; Sharon Cermak, EdD, USC, Dave Herzberg, PhD., Western Psychological Services; Pediatric Therapy Network, Los Angeles, CA.
Purpose: To revise and re-norm the Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests which is a norm-referenced, performance based test for children ages 4 years to 8 years, 11 months. It consists of 17 different tests, measuring sensory motor functions, visual perception and visual skills, praxis or motor planning functions, somatosensory functions including tactile discrimination, vestibular, and proprioceptive functions.
Progress: Research edition due to be tested Spring 2010.
White, B, & Mulligan, S. E. (2009) The application of psychobiological measures in occupational therapy and occupational science research. OTJR: Occupation, Participation and Health.
White, B.P., Mulligan, S.E, Merrill, K.M, & Stafford, J. (2007). An examination of the relationships between motor and process skills and scores on the Sensory Profile, American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61(2), 154-160.
White, B. & Mulligan, S. (2005). Behavioral and physiologic response measures of occupational task performance: A preliminary comparison between typical children and children with attention disorder. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 59(4), 426-436.
Mulligan S. (2002). A survey of educational strategies used by teachers with students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Occupational and Physical Therapy in Pediatrics, 20(4), 25-44.
Mulligan, S. (2000). Cluster analysis of scores of children on the Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests. Occupational Therapy Journal of Research, 20(4), 256-270.
Mulligan, S. (1998). Structural equation modeling and its applications for occupational therapy research. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 52, 829-834.
Mulligan, S. (1998). Patterns of sensory integration dysfunction: A confirmatory factor analysis. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 52(10), 819-828.
Mulligan, S. (1996). An analysis of score patterns of children with attention disorders on the Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 50(8), 647-654.
Mulligan, S. & Hanzlik, J. (1991) The effectiveness of sensory stimulation in the treatment of children with severe head injuries. The Occupational Therapy Journal of Research, 11, (4), 213-226.
Mulligan S. (June 2003). Evaluating the Evidence For Occupational Therapy Using a Sensory Integration Framework Part 2 . Sensory Integration Special Interest Section Newsletter, American Occupational Therapy Association.
Mulligan S. (March 2003). Evaluating the Evidence For Occupational Therapy Using a Sensory Integration Framework Part 1 . Sensory Integration Special Interest Section Newsletter, 26 (1), 1-4. Bethesda: American Occupational Therapy Association
Mulligan S. (2003). Occupational Therapy Evaluation for Children. Baltimore: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Mulligan S.E. (submitted) Preschool: Aren’t they too young to ride a school bus? Book chapter for an edited book titled: Kids Can Be Kids Supporting The Occupations and Activities of Childhood, edited by Shelly J Lane and Anita C Bundy, Slack Inc
Mulligan, S. (2002). Advances in sensory integration research. A. Bundy, S. Lane, & A. Murray’s (2nd Eds.), Sensory integration theory and practice. pp. 397-411 Philadelphia: F.A. Davis.
1997 Ph.D., Special Education, University of Washington; 1990 MSOT, Colorado State University; 1985 BSOT, University of Western Ontario;
323 Hewitt Hall