Diane Parham received a B.S. degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Florida (1974), an M.A. degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California (USC, 1980), and her Ph.D. degree in Education (concentration in Special Education) from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA, 1989). She was on the occupational therapy faculty at USC for 22 years prior to joining the UNM Occupational Therapy Graduate Program faculty in 2007.

Personal Statement

My primary area of research is in sensory integration (SI), a specialty area of occupational therapy (OT). I became interested in SI during my first two clinical OT positions in in- and out-patient psychiatry, where I noticed that many patients had difficulty processing sensory information and responding adaptively to sensory experiences. I subsequently pursued graduate studies and was mentored by the founder of the field of sensory integration (SI), Jean Ayres. Most of my research is in the field of SI, including clinical assessment and intervention effectiveness. At UNM I have taught infant/child development, evidence-based practice, neuroanatomy, and an SI elective course. I am an Associate Editor for the Occupational Therapy Journal of Research (OTJR) and serve on the Board of Directors of the Society for the Study of Occupation: USA.

Areas of Specialty

Sensory Integration
Development of Clinical Assessments
Infant and Child Development
Occupational Science
Academic Faculty Productivity & Rewards


Occupational Therapist
Certification in Sensory Integration & Praxis Tests

Achievements & Awards

Outstanding Alumni Award, University of Florida , 2017
UNM SOM Excellence in Teaching Award, 2015
Cordelia Myers AJOT Best Article Award, AOTA, 2015
Service Commendation, AOTA, 2013, 2012, 1999
Leader in Occupational Therapy, University of Findlay (Ohio), 2012
Caroline Thompson Memorial Lecturer, U of Wisconsin, Madison, 2011
UNM SOM Excellence in Teaching Award, 2011
Visiting Scholar, UNM Occupational Therapy Graduate Program, 2005
Building Bridges from the Ivory Tower national award, 2004
MCH Lectureship in Pediatric Physical Therapy, U of Washington, 2002
Leadership Service Commendation, American OT Foundation, 1999
A. Jean Ayres Award, contributions to theory and research, AOTF, 1998
Honorary member, Pi Theta Epsilon, Univ of Southern California, 1996
Honored Lecturer, Calif Foundation for Occupational Therapy, 1995
Fellow of American Occupational Therapy Association, 1992
Doctoral Fellowship, American Occupational Therapy Foundation,1988
Exceptional Child Predoctoral Fellow, DHEW (DHHS), 1980-83
Doctoral scholarship, Center for the Study of Sensory Integration, 1980


  • English

Research and Scholarship

1. My PhD dissertation was a 4-year longitudinal study that showed that SI functioning in 6-8 year old children predicted math and reading achievement four years later, when controlling for effects of IQ and socioeconomic status.

2. I developed a reliable and valid fidelity measure that operationalizes Ayres Sensory Integration intervention for use in randomized clinical trials. The clinical trials using this fidelity measure have led to the recognition of this intervention as an evidence-based treatment for children with autism by the Frank Porter Graham Center for autism at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

3. I am co-author of a widely used, reliable, and valid parent questionnaire (the Sensory Processing Measure or SPM) for evaluating sensory processing difficulties of preschoolers and elementary school students. An updated set of SPM-2 questionnaires covering the lifespan is scheduled for press in June 2021; I am the lead author.