Free
Poster Session
Issue Date: August 2016
Published Online: August 01, 2016
Updated: January 01, 2021
Sensory Processing in Children With and Without Autism Using the Sensory Profile and DSM–5
Author Affiliations
  • The Center for Autism
Article Information
Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder / Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / Sensory Integration and Processing / Basic Research
Poster Session   |   August 01, 2016
Sensory Processing in Children With and Without Autism Using the Sensory Profile and DSM–5
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011505175. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.70S1-PO7075
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011505175. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.70S1-PO7075
Abstract

Date Presented 4/9/2016

This study compared sensory processing as reported on the Sensory Profile among children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD; Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed.) and other disabilities (non-ASD). The non-ASD group demonstrated more sensory processing deficits, suggesting that occupational therapists address sensory processing deficits in various childhood diagnoses.

Primary Author and Speaker: Brittany Johnson

Contributing Authors: Judith S. Miller, Brenna Maddox, Kristin Cunningham

PURPOSE: This study examined sensory processing as reported on the Sensory Profile (SP) among children ages 3–6 yr with autism spectrum disorder (ASD; as diagnosed using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed. [DSM–5]; American Psychiatric Association, 2014) and children ages 3–6 yr diagnosed with other disabilities. Questions include (1) which domains of sensory processing are the highest reported probable and definite difference within this sample of children with ASD as measured by the SP and (2) do significant differences exist in sensory processing behavior identified in this group of children with ASD when compared with children who are diagnosed with other disabilities (non-ASD)? The ASD group was expected to demonstrate more sensory processing deficits than the non-ASD group.
BACKGROUND: ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder associated with deficits in social interaction and communication skills, as well as restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior. A new addition to the DSM–5 criteria includes sensory processing deficits as part of the behavioral symptoms. According to Sensory Integrative theory, learning occurs best when an individual is able to receive and process accurate sensory information and use the information to organize behaviors to produce an adaptive response.
The SP is an instrument used to determine an individual’s difficulty with sensory processing and how these are affecting their ability to participate in daily routines; Occupational therapists (OTs) can increase independence in individuals with ASD by addressing these sensory needs. Previous findings have suggested that children with ASD have more deficits in sensory processing as measured by the SP and Short Sensory Profile (SSP), compared with typically developing children and children with other developmental disabilities. This is the first study to examine sensory processing using the SP in children diagnosed with ASD using DSM–5 criteria.
DESIGN: A retrospective chart review was used to gather data on children evaluated at The Regional Autism Center (RAC) at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
PARTICIPANTS: Children were referred for an evaluation because of possible ASD, during which they received a medical, psychological, occupational therapy, and speech and language team evaluation. A total of 83 participants met the following inclusion criteria: (1) Evaluated using DSM–5; (2) age 3–6 yr, 11 mo; (3) SP completed and results reported; and (4) received a full evaluation at RAC.
METHOD: SP, a judgment-based caregiver questionnaire consisting of 125 items grouped into three main sections: Sensory Processing, Modulation, and Behavioral/Emotional Responses
ANALYSIS: Descriptive statistics and chi-square tests were used to compare the ASD and non-ASD groups in determining which areas of the SP demonstrated a significant difference in sensory processing behavior.
RESULTS: Findings demonstrate a significant difference in vestibular processing between the ASD and non-ASD group, χ2(2) = 9.047, p = .011, with the non-ASD group having more definite difference performance compared with the ASD group and the ASD group having more probable difference performance compared with the non-ASD group; a significant difference in touch processing between the ASD and non-ASD group, χ2 (2) = 8.134, p = .017, with the non-ASD group having more probable and definite difference performance compared with the ASD group.
DISCUSSION: Previous literature has suggested that children with ASD have more sensory impairments than children with other developmental disabilities, specifically taste/smell sensitivities and difficulty with auditory filtering. Because the non-ASD group included a variety of other developmental disabilities that often have associated sensory processing deficits, this suggests that OTs should address sensory processing deficits in all populations of childhood diagnoses and disabilities.
IMPACT STATEMENT: This research proposal suggests a need for effective and individualized interventions targeting specific sensory processing deficits, as well as a need for objective sensory processing measures enabling more studies comparing sensory processing in children with ASD pre– and post–occupational therapy interventions.
References
American Psychiatric Association. (2014). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.