Kelsey Philpott-Robinson, Alison E. Lane, Karen Harpster; Sensory Features of Toddlers at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Am J Occup Ther 2016;70(4):7004220010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.019497
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
OBJECTIVE. We observed sensory features in toddlers ages 12–24 mo with risk factors for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and explored their relationship to general development and early signs of ASD.
METHOD. Participants (N = 46) included toddlers with higher risk for ASD. All participants were administered standardized assessments of sensory features, early signs of ASD, and general development at a single study visit.
RESULTS. Sensory features in toddlers were characterized as either adaptive or reactive. Toddlers with more difficulties in oral sensory processing displayed more early signs of ASD. Typical oral and auditory processing were associated with higher cognitive function, and toddlers with fewer sensory features overall had more mature language skills.
CONCLUSION. Specific sensory features were associated with both early signs of ASD and less mature general development. Replication of this preliminary study is required.
Sensory reactive (Cluster 2)—All scores fall below the normative mean with subfoci in auditory and vestibular domains.
Sensory adaptive (Clusters 1, 3, and 4)—Most scores fall within 1 standard deviation of the normative mean.
Have provided a basis on which to conduct further studies with larger datasets that can more precisely delineate which sensory features are critical in the emergence of ASD in later childhood,
Can be used to guide the observations of occupational therapists working in early intervention, and
Have shown that the ITSP is a useful tool in identifying specific patterns of sensory features that may be relevant to the emergence of ASD symptoms.
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