Poster Session
Issue Date: August 2016
Published Online: August 01, 2016
Updated: January 01, 2021
Performance of Typical Adults on the Adult/Adolescent Sensory History
Author Affiliations
  • SPIRAL Foundation
Article Information
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder / Mental Health / Sensory Integration and Processing / Assessment/Measurement
Poster Session   |   August 01, 2016
Performance of Typical Adults on the Adult/Adolescent Sensory History
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011500029.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011500029.

Date Presented 4/8/2016

This study provides descriptive normative information for 729 adults on the Adult/Adolescent Sensory History and presents typical scores that may be used to identify sensory issues in adults. It also suggests that adults with anxiety, depression, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder might benefit from sensory screening.

Primary Author and Speaker: Teresa May-Benson

Contributing Authors: Alison Teasdale, Temor Amin-Arsala, Colleen Dunwell, Abbie Smith-Howe, Elizabeth Valliere, Brooke Weber

PURPOSE: Normative data on the Adult/Adolescent Sensory History (ASH) were examined to describe sensory processing patterns of typical adults, age and gender differences, and differences among other diagnoses on this measure.
RATIONALE: Much current research on sensory processing disorders focuses on children; however, these problems are also present in adults. The Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile (Brown & Dunn, 2002) is one commonly available measure of sensory processing, but it does not address praxis or postural or discrimination skills. The ASH is a new self-report measure based on Ayres’s model of sensory integration that differs from current measures in that it provides a total score for sensory and motor skills; examines aspects of modulation and discrimination of sensory inputs; and addresses postural control, praxis, and social–emotional skills. As part of the development of this measure, the current study examines normative data on the ASH.
DESIGN: Descriptive online survey study
PARTICIPANTS: Participants were 729 typically functioning adults ages 18–88 yr with no reported sensory processing or neuromuscular problems, mental health problems involving psychoses, or significant health problems or disease. Other mental health diagnoses such as depression, anxiety, and attention deficit disorder were permitted. Participants were recruited from across the United States via website, word of mouth, emails, and so forth to complete an anonymous online survey.
MEASURE: The ASH is a 163-item self-report questionnaire for adults and adolescents between 13 and 98 yr old that provides a total score and subscores for sensory modulation and discrimination; individual sensory systems; and postural, motor, and social skill areas. Items are rated on a 5-point Likert scale (1 = never, 5 = always), with higher scores indicating greater dysfunction. It has established interrater and test–retest reliability and discriminant validity. The ASH is intended for clinical use as both a diagnostic tool and outcomes measurement
METHOD: An anonymous online survey using the ASH was created and typically functioning adults were recruited over a 1-yr period.
ANALYSIS: Descriptive statistics including distributions and frequencies of total and subscores were examined. Independent t tests examined gender and diagnosis differences, and one-way analysis of variance examined age differences.
RESULTS: A skewed total score distribution found no typical individuals scoring in the high (dysfunctional) range of scores. Women scored statistically significantly higher than men on the total score, modulation, postural control, and movement subsections. Younger participants scored more dysfunctional on proprioception, tactile, postural control, and social–emotional subsections, and older participants scored higher on praxis skills. Participants diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, or depression score were significantly more dysfunctional than typical peers with no diagnosis.
DISCUSSION: Although statistically significant subscore differences were found, large standard deviations and small differences in mean scores suggest these differences may not be clinically significant. Findings suggest that people with ADHD, depression, or anxiety may benefit from sensory screening. Preliminary normative data on the ASH for typical adults inform development of this measure for use in identifying sensory issues.
IMPACT STATEMENT: The addition of an adult sensory processing measure that examines areas not available by current measures adds to the repertoire of assessments for occupational therapists. Information gained from this measure may be utilized to support services for adults, and it has potential use as an outcome measure.
Brown, C., & Dunn, W. (2002). Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile: User’s manual. San Antonio: Therapy Skill Builders.