Anne V. Kirby, Lauren M. Little, Beth Schultz, Grace T. Baranek; Observational Characterization of Sensory Interests, Repetitions, and Seeking Behaviors. Am J Occup Ther 2015;69(3):6903220010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.015081
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
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.
We recommend that practitioners augment caregiver-report measures with behavioral observations to better understand how SIRS are manifested and how they may affect each child’s participation in daily activities.
Practitioners should monitor children’s interest and affect during SIRS when performing clinical observations. Moreover, practitioners should maintain awareness that engagement in SIRS does not necessarily imply enjoyment of the behavior.
Surveillance of the manner in which children engage in multiple SIRS concurrently (i.e., complexity) may reveal more challenges for some children than others in the face of similar situations, which may be important for intervention planning.
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