Sensory Over-Responsivity in Elementary School: Prevalence and Social-Emotional Correlates
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Sensory over-responsivity (SOR) towards tactile and auditory input can impact children’s participation in academic and social activities; however the prevalence of SOR behaviors and their relation to social-emotional problems and competence has not been rigorously studied. This study investigated SOR in a representative sample of elementary school-aged children (n = 925, 50% boys, ages 7–11 years) who were followed from infancy. Sixteen percent of parents reported that at least four tactile or auditory sensations bothered their children. Being bothered by certain sensations was common while others were relatively rare. Parents of children with versus without elevated SOR in school-age reported higher frequencies of early and co-occurring internalizing, externalizing, and dysregulation problems, and lower levels of concurrent adaptive social behaviors. Early identification of elevated SOR and assessment of concurrent social-emotional status are important to minimize their impact on social adaptive behaviors at school age.