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Accessible Leisure Lab

The major goal of ongoing research in the Accessible Leisure Lab at the University of Kansas Medical Center is to promote the health of individuals with disability and chronic illness through leisure and physical activity.

Photo of researchers working with young girl

Researchers in this lab investigate factors impeding or facilitating leisure participation and effects of physical activity on health behaviors and body composition.

Photo of female KU student working with young swimmer.The director of this lab is KU occupational therapy faculty member Lisa Mische Lawson, Ph.D., CTRS, FDRT. She also serves as director of Sensory Enhanced Aquatics, a swimming and water safety program for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Her research specifically focuses on the effects of water-based physical activity on health outcomes of children with ASD.

Graduate students training with Mische Lawson obtain clinical and research experiences with physical activity measurement, program development and evaluation, one-on-one client services, and quantitative and qualitative research methods. They will also acquire significant presentation and writing experience for professional and general audiences.

See some of Mische Lawson’s publications at Google Scholar.

young kids

Help Prevent Drowning

We are looking for children with autism to join a research study. With a rate of drowning 160 times higher than other kids, we already know children with autism can benefit greatly with swimming instruction. Instead of standard lessons, could swim lessons tailored specifically to children with autism be beneficial?
Learn more

ALL Lab Team

  • Lisa Mische Lawson, Ph.D., CTRS, FDRT
    Director, Accessible Leisure Lab
  • Lauren Foster, OTD, OTR/L
    Co-Investigator

  • Kayla Hamner, MOT, OTR/L
    Manager, Sensory Enhanced Aquatics Program

  • Caitlin Lisk, Ph.D., LCSW
    Clinical Research Coordinator

  • Mildred Oligbo, DPT, PT
    Clinical Assistant Professor and Doctoral Research Student

  • Molly Schneider
    Research Assistant

  • Mikayla Quin
    Graduate Research Assistant

  • Abriel Jarrett
    Student Director and Swim Instructor

  • Victoria Pettay
    Swim Instructor

  • Paige Molstad
    Swim Instructor

  • Ellie Platt
    Swim Instructor

  • Lauren Platt
    Swim Instructor


Current and Recent Projects

Developing Global Capacity of Recreation Providers to Teach Swimming and Water Safety to Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)-Funded by World Leisure Organization

This project is developing Sensory Enhanced Aquatics Instructor Training videos for online and international dissemination.

PD: Mische Lawson

Effectiveness of Pressure Garments for Improving Participation of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Decreasing Stress of Caregivers-Funded by Knit Rite Inc.

Two projects investigating the effects of pressure garments on participation in everyday life activities of children with autism spectrum disorders. One project investigates participation generally and the other specifically investigates the effects of pressure garments on sleep.

PI: Mische Lawson

Sensory Processing and Motor Skills in Children with Developmental Conditions and Children with Typical Development-Funded by Jordan Institute of Technology

This study investigates sensory processing preferences and motor skills of children with disabilities compared to typically developing children.

PI: Ismael, Co-I: Mische Lawson

Swim Training and Quality of Life of Children with Autism-Funded by Recreational Therapy Foundation

This study investigates the feasibility of the Children’s Health Questionnaire for measuring children’s quality of life after the Sensory Enhanced Aquatics Intervention.

PI: Mische Lawson

KU School of Health Professions

Occupational Therapy Education
KU Medical Center
3901 Rainbow Blvd  MS2003
Kansas City, KS 66160
913-588-7195 • 711 TTY