Kathryn Lawrence Dragas Sensory Processing and Stress Evaluation Lab

Shelly J Lane, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA Stacey Reynolds, PhD, OTR/L
Professor Associate Professor

Office Location: 730 E. Broad Street, Theater Row Building, Rm. 2050H (Lane) and 2050D (Reynolds)

Lab Location: 730 E. Broad Street, Theater Row Building, Rm

The Department of Occupational Therapy Kathryn Lawrence Dragas Sensory Processing And Stress Evaluation (KLD-SPASE) Lab was established in 2004 as an environment in which researchers could examine the physiological mechanisms underlying disorders in sensory integration and processing. We became part of the Sensory Integration Research Collaborative (SIRC), a group of 6 labs that includes scientists invested in developing a better understanding of sensory integration and processing disorders, in 2005. Each SIRC lab researches sensory integration and processing but with a slightly unique focus. The KLD-SPASE lab investigates the neurophysiology of SPD through the use of electrophysiologic and stress system measures.

What are Disorders of Sensory Integration and Processing?

Sensory integration and processing is the ability most of us have to be able to take in sensory information (through touch, movement, hearing, vision, smell and taste) and organize & interpret that information in a way that allows us to interact in our world. An inability to accurately process sensory information from the environment can lead to difficulties in learning, attention, motor skill development, and social-emotional development. Sensory integration and processing disorders are believed to occur in at least 5% of the typical population, but they are also commonly associated with diagnoses such as autism, ADHD, Asperger's Syndrome, and Fragile X syndrome.

KLD-SPASE Lab Research

We are only beginning to understand what causes disorders of sensory integration and processing, and how to best treat children with such problems. The global aims of the KLD-SPASE Lab at VCU are to:

  • Examine the causes and prevalence of sensory integration and processing disorders;
  • Establish a differential diagnosis of sensory integration and processing disorders, distinguishing them from other conditions such as Autism and ADHD;
  • Identify neurologic, physiologic and biochemical markers associated with sensory integration and processing disorders.
  • Examine best practice for working with children with sensory integration and processing disorders.

We are currently funded by the Presidents Research Initiative Program (PRIP) to study the effects of sensory-based tasks, routinely used in the clinic, on attention in typical children, and children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Attention Deficit Disorders. Our recently completed study focused on the differential diagnosis of children with a sensory modulation disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and Attention Deficit Disorders.

Current research support: PRIP

Recently completed study funding: Wallace Foundation

KLD-SPASE Lab Researcher Bios

Shelly J. Lane, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA Professor for the Department of Occupational Therapy at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Director of the Kathryn Lawrence Dragas Sensory Integration and Stress Evaluation (KLD-SPASE) LabDirector of Post Professional Education for the Department of Occupational Therapy

Professor Lane received her B.S. in Occupational Therapy from The Ohio State University and her PhD in Anatomy with emphasis in Neurosciences at the University of Texas Health Sciences at San Antonio. In 1984 she completed a post-doctoral fellowship in neurophysiology at the Neuropsychiatric Institute at the University of California. Professor Lane has engaged in aspects of pediatric occupational therapy practice, education and scholarship for over 35 years, focusing on sensory integration and processing in children with disabilities, as well as neuroscience applications in occupational therapy. Recently funded and completed research includes differential diagnosis of sensory modulation diagnosis (funding from the Wallace Research Foundation) with support from the CTSA (Award No. UL1TR000058, from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. Publications from this work are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent official views of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences or the National Institutes of Health). Current funding, in conjunction with colleague Dr Stacey Reynolds, supports examining the physiologic correlates of therapeutic techniques (VCU Presidents Research Initiative Program). Professor Lane presents both nationally and internationally, and has edited, authored and contributed to books addressing issues related to sensory integration and processing, neuroscience applications to practice, and pediatric occupational therapy practice. Her most recent contribution is Kids Can Be Kids, a pediatric occupational therapy text co-edited with Professor Anita Bundy.

Stacey Reynolds, PhD, OTR/L Associate Professor for the Department of Occupational Therapy at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)Director, The Reynolds Lab @ VCU

Associate Professor Reynolds received her M.S. in Occupational Therapy from Gannon University and her PhD in Health Science with emphasis in Occupational Therapy at Virginia Commonwealth University. In 2010 she was accepted into the Rehabilitation Research and Career Development (RRCD) program at the University of Florida and completed 2.5 years of mentored training in the area of behavioral neuroscience. In addition to five years of clinical experience, Dr. Reynolds has completed multiple funded research projects related to the etiology and characterization of sensory-motor disorders in neurodevelopmental disabilities using both human and animal models.

Select Research Publications

Copolillo, A, Shepherd, J., Anzalone, M., & Lane, S.J. (2010). Taking on the challenge of the centennial vision: Transforming the passion for occupational therapy into a passion for leadership. Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 24(1), 7-22.

Lane, S.J., & Schaaf, R. C (2010). Examining the neuroscience evidence for sensory driven neuroplasticity: Implications for sensory-based occupational therapy for children and adolescents. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 64, 375-393. doi:10.5014/ajot.2010.09069

Lane, S.J., Reynolds, S., & Dumenci, L. (2012). Sensory over-responsivity and anxiety in typical children and children with Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Cause or co-existence? American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 66(5), 595-603.

Lane, S.J., Reynolds, S., & Thacker, L. (2010). Sensory over-responsivity and ADHD: differentiating using electrodermal responses, cortisol, and anxiety. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 4(8),1-14. doi:10.3389/fnint.2010.00008

Lane, S.J., Reynolds, S., Dumenci, L. (2012). Sensory over-responsivity and anxiety in typical children and children with Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Cause or co-existence? American Journal of Occupational Therapy,

Reynolds, S., & Lane, S. J. (2009). Sensory Over-responsivity and Anxiety in Children with ADHD. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 63, 4, 433-440.

Reynolds, S., & Lane, S.J. (2007). Diagnostic Validity of Sensory Over-Responsivity: A Review of the Literature and Case Reports. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 38(3), 516-529.

Reynolds, S., Bendixen, R.M., Lawrence, T., & Lane, S.J. (2011). A Pilot Study Examining Activity Participation, Sensory Responsiveness, and Competence in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 41, 1496-1506. DOI 10.1007/s10803-010-1173-x.

Reynolds, S., Devine, D.P., & Millette, A. (2012). Sensory and motor characterization in the post-natal valproate rat model of autism. Developmental Neuroscience. DOI: 10.1159/000336646

Reynolds, S., Kreider, C., Bendixen, R.M. (in press). A Mixed-methods Investigation of Sensory Response Patterns in Barth Syndrome: A clinical phenotype? American Journal of Medical Genetics, Part A.

Reynolds, S., Lane, S. J., & Gennings, C. (online 2009). The Moderating Role of Sensory Over-responsivity in HPA Activity: A pilot study with children diagnosed with ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders,13, 468-478. doi:10.1177/1087054708329906

Reynolds, S., Lane, S.J., & Richards, L. (2010). Using animal models of enriched environments to inform research on sensory integration intervention for the rehabilitation of neurodevelopmental disorders. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 2(3), 120-132 . online first, DOI 10.1007/s11689-010-9053-4.

Reynolds, S., Lane, S.J., & Thacker, L. (2011). Sensory processing, physiological stress, and sleep behaviors in children with and without autism spectrum disorder. OTJR: Occupation, Participation, and Health, 31(2), 246-257.

Reynolds, S., Shepherd, J., Lane, S.J. (2008). Sensory modulation disorders in a minority Head Start population: Preliminary prevalence and characterization. Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools & Early Intervention, 1(3), 186-198.

Roman-Oyola, R. & Reynolds, S. (2010). Validating the Response Process of the Spanish version of the Short Sensory Profile: A Pilot Study using Cognitive Interviews. Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools & Early Intervention, 3, 1-10.

Schaaf, R.C., Benevides, T., Blanche, E.I., Brett-Green, B.A., Burke, J.B., Cohn, E.S., Koomar, J., Lane, S.J., Miller, L.J., May-Benson, Parham, D., Reynolds, S., & Schoen, S.A. (2010). Parasympathetic functions in children with sensory processing disorder. Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience, 4(4), doi: 10.3389/fnint.2010.00004.