Ashley Freuler, Grace T. Baranek, Linda R. Watson, Brian A. Boyd, John C. Bulluck; Precursors and Trajectories of Sensory Features: Qualitative Analysis of Infant Home Videos. Am J Occup Ther 2012;66(5):e81–e84. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2012.004465
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OBJECTIVE. This study explored precursors and trajectories of extreme sensory patterns in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) compared with children with developmental delay (DD).
METHOD. We conducted a retrospective analysis of home videos of 12 infants who later displayed extreme presence or absence of three sensory patterns at preschool and school age.
RESULTS. In ASD, hyporesponsiveness was most evident in infancy, followed by sensory repetitions. Hyporesponsiveness appeared stable over time and also was a precursor of sensory seeking. Infants with DD had few sensory precursors.
CONCLUSION. Precursors of extreme sensory features emerge early in children with ASD and appear relatively stable over time for a pattern of hyporesponsiveness but less stable for patterns of hyperresponsiveness and sensory seeking. These findings highlight the emergent nature of sensory features that may inform early identification and intervention.
Are precursors of extreme sensory patterns visible in early home videos, and if so, what is their nature?
Are these early sensory features stable over time?
How do early sensory features and trajectories in children with ASD compare with those of children with DD?
Precursors to sensory features emerge early in infants later diagnosed with ASD and may be assessed with detailed observational systems of family activities and routines.
Practitioners should consider the changing nature of sensory features over time and their impact on children’s later development. In particular, hyporesponsiveness in infancy may be an early precursor of extreme sensory patterns evident in children with ASD in the preschool and school-age years.
The absence of sensory features in infancy (as recorded in home movies) does not necessarily preclude development of later sensory features, particularly for children with developmental delays. Practitioners should be cognizant of how sensory features manifesting at any age affect children’s occupations and family routines.
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