Scott D. Tomchek, Lauren M. Little, Winnie Dunn; Sensory Pattern Contributions to Developmental Performance in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder. Am J Occup Ther 2015;69(5):6905185040. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.018044
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
Sensory processing differences in preschool-age children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affect their engagement in everyday activities, thereby influencing opportunities to practice and develop skills such as social communication and adaptive behavior. The purpose of this study was to investigate the extent to which specific sensory processing patterns relate to aspects of development (i.e., adaptive behavior, expressive and receptive language, fine and gross motor skills, social behavior) in a sample of preschool-age children with ASD (N = 400). A retrospective chart review was used to gather clinical data. Results suggest that sensory processing patterns differentially affect children’s developmental skills and adaptive behavior. Certain sensory processing patterns predicted children’s development of language, motor, and adaptive skills. These findings have clear implications for occupational therapy practice with young children with ASD. Practitioners should consider how sensory processing in ASD both supports and limits children’s ability to engage in social communication and learning opportunities.
Occupational therapy can play an important role to support engagement in social communication opportunities.
Collaborative interprofessional practice between occupational therapy practitioners and speech–language pathologists may yield optimal treatment outcomes.
Findings from this study demonstrate that strong relationships exist between sensory patterns and measures of developmental performance.
Sensory processing differences affect children’s ability to sustain engagement in occupations when participating in daily life.
Recognizing sensory pattern contributions as a vital component of the environment reduces the emphasis on skill development and guides parents, teachers, and practitioners to create effective context-specific supports that can improve child participation in daily routines.
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