Breif Report: Sensory Abnormalities as Distinguishing Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Young Children

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the sensory profile of young children with ASD compared to young children with other developmental delays (DD) at first ASD assessment. Results found that young children with ASD had more tactile and taste/smell sensitivities and difficulties with auditory filtering than young children with other DD. Moreover, sensory scores were significantly correlated with stereotyped interests and behaviors. These findings support the hypotheses that young children with ASD show more sensory impairments than young children with other DD and that sensory symptoms are significantly related to stereotyped interests and behaviors. Results also suggest that sensory abnormalities are distinguishing symptoms of ASD that should be considered in diagnostic algorithms for younger cohorts.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  1. American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistics manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). DC: Washington.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Ayres, A. (1979). Sensory integration and the child. Los Angles: Western Psychological Services.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Baranek, G. (1999). Autism during infancy: A retrospective video analysis of sensory-motor and social behaviors at 9–12 months of age. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 29, 213–224. doi:10.1023/A:1023080005650.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Ben-Sasson, A., Cermak, S., Orsmond, G., Tager-Flusberg, H., Carter, A., Kadlec, M., et al. (2008). Extreme sensory modulation behaviors in toddlers with an autism spectrum disorder. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61, 584–592.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Blackman, L. (1999). Lucy’s story: Autism and other adventures. Brisbane: Book in Hand.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Corsello, C. (2005). Early intervention in autism. Infants and Young Children, 18, 74–85.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Dunn, W. (1999). The short sensory profile. San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Grandin, T. (1996). Thinking in pictures. New York: Vintage.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Kern, J., Trivedi, M., Garver, C., Grannemann, B., Andrews, A., Salva, J., et al. (2006). The pattern of sensory processing abnormalities in autism. Autism, 10, 480–494. doi:10.1177/1362361306066564.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Kientz, M. A., & Dunn, W. (1996). A comparison of the performance of children with and without autism on the sensory profile. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 51, 530–537.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Landa, R. (2007). Early communication development and intervention for children with autism. Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Reviews, 13, 16–25. doi:10.1002/mrdd.20134.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Leekam, S., Nieto, C., Libby, S., Wing, L., & Gould, J. (2007). Describing the sensory abnormalities of children and adults with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37, 894–910. doi:10.1007/s10803-006-0218-7.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Lord, C. (1995). Follow-up of 2-year-olds referred for possible autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 36, 1365–1382. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.1995.tb01669.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Lord, C., Rutter, M., DiLavore, P., & Risi, S. (1999). Autism diagnostic observation schedule–WPS edition. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Lord, C., Rutter, M., & Le Couteur, A. (1994). Autism diagnostic interview-revised: A revised version of a diagnostic interview for caregivers of individuals with possible pervasive developmental disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 24, 659–685. doi:10.1007/BF02172145.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Newborg, J. (1984). The battelle developmental inventory. Itasca, IL: Riverside Publishing Company.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Ornitz, E. (1974). The modulation between sensory input and motor output in autistic children. Journal of Autism and Childhood Schizophrenia, 4, 197–215.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Ornitz, E. (1989). Autism and the interface between sensory processing and information processing. In G. Dawson (Ed.), Autism: Nature, diagnosis, and treatment (pp. 174–207). New York: Guillford.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Osterling, J., & Dawson, G. (1994). Early recognition of children with autism: A study of first birthday home videotapes. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 24, 247–257.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Robins, D. L., Fein, D., Barton, M., & Green, J. (2001). The modified checklist for autism in toddlers: An initial study investigating the early detection of autism and pervasive developmental disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 31, 131–144.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Rogers, S. (1998). Empirically supported comprehensive treatments for young children with autism. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 27, 168–179.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Rogers, S., Hepburn, S., & Wehner, E. (2003). Parent reports of sensory symptoms in toddlers with autism and those with other developmental disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 33, 631–642.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Schloper, E., Reichler, R. J., & Renner, B. R. (1988). The childhood autism rating scale. Los Angeles, CA: Western Psychological Services.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Tomchek, S. D., & Dunn, W. (2007). Sensory processing in children with and without autism: A comparative study using the short sensory profile. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61, 190–200.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to the children and families who participated in the study and our clinical and community collaborators for their continued support. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Lisa D. Wiggins.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Wiggins, L.D., Robins, D.L., Bakeman, R. et al. Breif Report: Sensory Abnormalities as Distinguishing Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Young Children. J Autism Dev Disord 39, 1087–1091 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-009-0711-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Autism
  • Sensory abnormalities
  • Sensory profile