A longitudinal exploratory study of changes in sensory processing in children with ASD from the ELENA cohort

Abstract

Atypical sensory processing (SP) is a diagnostic criterion of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, little is known about its course during development. In this exploratory longitudinal study, we aimed to investigate the course of SP among children with ASD and identify clinical variables associated with changes. We used a subsample of 51 children with confirmed ASD, aged from 3 to 10 years, recruited from the ELENA cohort. SP was assessed using the Sensory Profile questionnaire at baseline and three years later. Our preliminary results highlight the heterogeneity of the evolution of SP during the children’s development and the existence of three subgroups based on the course of SP (improvement, stable, and worsening). In addition, the children’s adaptive skills and maladaptive behaviors were related to the course of SP. These results could be confirmed in future studies with a larger sample size using a longitudinal approach to capture individual variability in SP. In addition, our results highlight the importance of accounting for temporal changes in the sensory needs of individuals with ASD in clinical practice.

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Acknowledgements

We thank the contributing families and ELENA cohort staff (Ela Miniarikova, Flore Couty, Lee Audras-Torrent, Mathilde Bérard, Myriam Soussana, Julie Loubersac, Laetitia Ferrando, and Christelle Vernhet). We would also like to express our gratitude to the CNSA and DGOS for funding to conduct this research.

Funding

This research received support from the French Health Ministry (DGOS) and CNSA. The CHU of Montpellier (AOI) provided additional support. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

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FD and AB conceived the study, contributed to the collection, analysis, and interpretation of the data, and drafted the manuscript. AB is the PI of the ELENA cohort. CM and MCP analyzed and interpreted the data and critically revised it for the principal intellectual content. All authors read and approved the final version.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Amaria Baghdadli.

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The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

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The study and informed consent procedure were approved by the Ethics Committee on the Research of Human Subjects at Marseille Mediterranean and the National Commission for Computing and Liberties (CNIL. number DR-2015-393).

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All participating families signed an informed consent form.

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Dellapiazza, F., Michelon, C., Picot, MC. et al. A longitudinal exploratory study of changes in sensory processing in children with ASD from the ELENA cohort. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-021-01746-1

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Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Sensory processing
  • Developmental change
  • Longitudinal data analysis