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Research Article  |   September 2007
Extreme Sensory Modulation Behaviors in Toddlers With Autism Spectrum Disorders
Author Affiliations
  • Ayelet Ben-Sasson, ScD, MAEd, OT, is Postdoctoral Fellow, Psychology Department, University of Massachusetts. Mailing Address: 15 Vitkin Street, Haifa 34757 Israel; ayelet@bu.edu
  • Sharon A. Cermak, EdD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston University
  • Gael I. Orsmond, PhD, is Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Boston University
  • Helen Tager-Flusberg, PhD, is Professor, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Boston University School of Medicine
  • Alice S. Carter, PhD, is Professor, Psychology Department, University of Massachusetts; and Primary Investigator, Studies to Advance Autism Research and Treatment Center, Boston
  • Mary Beth Kadlec, OTR/L, ScD, is Research Project Manager, Child and Family Project, Studies to Advance Autism Research and Treatment Center, Boston
  • Winnie Dunn, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, is Professor and Chair, Department of Occupational Therapy Education, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City
Article Information
Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder / Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / Children and Youth
Research Article   |   September 2007
Extreme Sensory Modulation Behaviors in Toddlers With Autism Spectrum Disorders
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, September/October 2007, Vol. 61, 584-592. doi:10.5014/ajot.61.5.584
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, September/October 2007, Vol. 61, 584-592. doi:10.5014/ajot.61.5.584
Abstract

This study examined the incidence of extreme sensory modulation behaviors in toddlers with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and investigated the consistency of sensory information across measures. Parent report of sensory behaviors in 101 toddlers with ASD was compared with 100 toddlers who were typically developing matched on chronological age and 99 additional infants or toddlers matched on mental age. Measures included the Infant/Toddler Sensory Profile, Infant–Toddler Social Emotional Assessment, Autism Diagnostic Interview–Revised, and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule–Generic. Toddlers with ASD were most distinct from typically developing groups in their high frequency of underresponsiveness and avoiding behaviors and their low frequency of seeking. Within the toddlers with ASD, there were significant associations across sensory parent report measures, but parent report was not correlated with clinical observation. Findings point to the early onset of an extreme sensory profile in ASD. Occupational therapists need to assess multiple domains of sensory behaviors to accurately identify the needs of toddlers with ASD.