Research Article  |   April 2015
Observational Characterization of Sensory Interests, Repetitions, and Seeking Behaviors
Author Affiliations
  • Anne V. Kirby, MS, OTR/L, is Doctoral Candidate, Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Department of Allied Health Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; avkirby@gmail.com
  • Lauren M. Little, PhD, OTR/L, is Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy Education, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City
  • Beth Schultz, MS, OTR/L, was Project Coordinator, Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Department of Allied Health Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, at the time of the study
  • Grace T. Baranek, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is Professor and Associate Chair for Research, Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Department of Allied Health Sciences, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Article Information
Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder / Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / Sensory Integration and Processing / Children and Youth
Research Article   |   April 2015
Observational Characterization of Sensory Interests, Repetitions, and Seeking Behaviors
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, April 2015, Vol. 69, 6903220010p1-6903220010p9. doi:10.5014/ajot.2015.015081
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, April 2015, Vol. 69, 6903220010p1-6903220010p9. doi:10.5014/ajot.2015.015081
Abstract

Sensory interests, repetitions, and seeking behaviors (SIRS) are common among children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities (DD) and involve unusual actions that intensify or reinforce a sensory experience. Researchers and practitioners typically use parent-report measures or informal clinical observations to understand the presence and nature of SIRS. In this study, we used a scoring supplement to the Sensory Processing Assessment for Young Children, an observational measure, to characterize SIRS across three groups of children—those with ASD (n = 40), DD (n = 37), and typical development (n = 39). Group differences were identified in frequency and intensity of overall SIRS, complexity of SIRS, and incidence of particular types of SIRS (i.e., posturing, sighting, proprioceptive seeking, spinning). Facial affect was also explored and found to be primarily neutral during engagement in SIRS across groups. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.