Barbara M. Schupak, Raju K. Parasher, Genevieve Pinto Zipp; Reliability of Electrodermal Activity: Quantifying Sensory Processing in Children With Autism. Am J Occup Ther 2016;70(6):7006220030. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.018291
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
OBJECTIVE. We established test–retest reliability of electrodermal markers used to quantify physiological response to sensation using the Sensory Challenge Protocol in children with and without autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
METHOD. Electrodermal activity (EDA) was measured during rest and in response to sensory inputs. Fourteen children with ASD and 18 typically developing children were tested and retested after 2–6 wk on skin conductance response, skin conductance level, nonspecific skin conductance response, and habituation.
RESULTS. Test–retest reliability was evaluated with intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs). Rest-phase coefficients for both groups were moderate (.65–.73). ICCs during response to sensation ranged from moderate to good for amplitude (.60–.81) and magnitude (.50–.75). In addition, moderate to excellent reliability (.51–.93) was observed for nonspecific response measures.
CONCLUSION. EDA measures are reliable physiological markers that can quantify response to sensation in children with and without ASD.
First, previous work reported in the literature in which researchers used EDA to measure responses to the SCP can now be reevaluated by clinicians and researchers to evaluate the power of outcomes reported. The establishment of reliable quantifiable responses to sensation in children with ASD was a necessary step toward accurately measuring SI treatment effectiveness for engagement in habilitative and functional tasks during occupational therapy.
Second, occupational therapy researchers should use more physiological measures in their research to ascertain the mechanism by which the functional changes occur, and then that mechanism and its proof should be taught in occupational therapy curricula.
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