Sensory Features and Repetitive Behaviors in Children with Autism and Developmental Delays

Division of Occupational Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.
Autism Research (Impact Factor: 4.33). 04/2010; 3(2):78-87. DOI: 10.1002/aur.124
Source: PubMed


This study combined parent and observational measures to examine the association between aberrant sensory features and restricted, repetitive behaviors in children with autism (N=67) and those with developmental delays (N=42). Confirmatory factor analysis was used to empirically validate three sensory constructs of interest: hyperresponsiveness, hyporesponsiveness, and sensory seeking. Examining the association between the three derived sensory factor scores and scores on the Repetitive Behavior Scales--Revised revealed the co-occurrence of these behaviors in both clinical groups. Specifically, high levels of hyperresponsive behaviors predicted high levels of repetitive behaviors, and the relationship between these variables remained the same controlling for mental age. We primarily found non-significant associations between hyporesponsiveness or sensory seeking and repetitive behaviors, with the exception that sensory seeking was associated with ritualistic/sameness behaviors. These findings suggest that shared neurobiological mechanisms may underlie hyperresponsive sensory symptoms and repetitive behaviors and have implications for diagnostic classification as well as intervention.

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    • "Thus, in the studies by Rogers et al. (2003) and Wiggins et al. (2009), no relationship was found between the sensory symptoms and the ADOS social/communicative score, while this relationship was found in the study by Watson et al. (2011). In this study, the children were older than in the other studies and, in addition to scales and questionnaires, behavioral evaluation measures were used to measure sensory processing, unlike in the aforementioned studies (except the one by Boyd et al., 2010). "
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    ABSTRACT: The main objective of this study was to analyze in a sample of children with ASD the relationship between sensory processing, social participation and praxis impairments and some of the child's characteristics, such as non-verbal IQ, severity of ASD symptoms and the number of ADHD symptoms (inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity), both in the home and main-classroom environments. Participants were the parents and teachers of 41 children with ASD from 5 to 8 years old (M = 6.09). They completed the Sensory Processing Measure (SPM) to evaluate sensory processing, social participation and praxis; the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale (GARS-2) to evaluate autism severity; and a set of items (the DSM-IV-TR criteria) to evaluate the number of inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity symptoms in the child. Non-verbal IQ -– measured by the Raven's Coloured Progressive Matrices Test- – did not show a relationship with any of the SPM variables. The SPM variables were significant predictors of autism severity and had similar weights in the two environments. In the case of ADHD symptoms, the SPM variables had a greater weight in the home than in the classroom environment, and they were significant predictors of both inattention and hyperactivity/impulsivity – especially inattention- – only in the family context. The moderate association between inattention and auditory processing found in the main-classroom suggests the possible utility of certain measures aimed to simplify any classroom's acoustic environment.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Research in developmental disabilities
    • "Furthermore, atypical sensory processing is also part of the diagnostic criteria incorporated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5th version (DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013), having been identified in 69–100% of people with ASDs in several studies (Baranek, Boyd, Poe, David, & Watson, 2007; Leekam, Nieto, Libby, Wing, & Gould, 2007). These sensory problems contribute to the deficits in more complex social, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms common in ASDs (Boyd et al., 2010; Hilton et al., 2010; Watson et al., 2011). Anatomically, dysfunction in medial temporal and orbitofrontal areas, often associated with ASDs, may result in olfactory deficits (Amaral, Schumann, & Nordahl, 2008; Suzuki, Critchley, Rowe, Howlin, & Murphy, 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: Olfactory function is a well-known early biomarker for neurodegeneration and neural functioning in the adult population, being supported by a number of brain structures that could be dysfunctioning in neurodegenerative processes. Evidence has suggested that atypical sensory and, particularly, olfactory processing is present in several neurodevelopmental conditions, including autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). In this paper, we present data obtained by a systematic literature review, conducted according to PRISMA guidelines, regarding the possible association between olfaction and ASDs, and analyze them critically in order to evaluate the occurrence of olfactory impairment in ASDs, as well as the possible usefulness of olfactory evaluation in such conditions. The results obtained in this analysis suggested a possible involvement of olfactory impairment in ASDs, underlining the importance of olfactory evaluation in the clinical assessment of ASDs. This assessment could be potentially included as a complementary evaluation in the diagnostic protocol of the condition. Methods for study selection and inclusion criteria were specified in advance and documented in PROSPERO protocol #CRD42014013939.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2015 · Child Neuropsychology
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    • "• Actively engages in activities to acquire sensory stimulation and craves an increased amount of input or a certain kind of stimuli (Boyd et al. 2010; Miller et al. 2007; Robertson and Simmons 2013). "
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    ABSTRACT: Sensory difficulties are a commonly occurring feature of autism spectrum disorders and are now included as one manifestation of the 'restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities' diagnostic criteria of the DSM5 necessitating guidelines for comprehensive assessment of these features. To facilitate the development of such guidelines, this paper provides an overview of the literature on sensory features in autism spectrum disorder. We summarize the literature pertaining to: terminology, current assessment practices, sensory development, and the relationship of sensory features to core symptoms of autism. The paper concludes with recommendations for clinical assessment of sensory features in Autism.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
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