Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tony Attwood - Author of The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome - Sensory Processing Issues Associated with Asperger’s Syndrome: A Preliminary Investigation

Dunn, W., Smith-Myles, B., and Orr, S, The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 56, pp 97-102.

The purpose of this study was to identify the sensory processing patterns of children with Asperger’s Syndrome. Researchers compared the performance of 42 children with Asperger’s Syndrome and 42 children without disabilities on section and factor scores of the Sensory Profile. As reported by parents on the Sensory Profile, the children with Asperger’s Syndrome were significantly different from children without disabilities on 22 of 23 items. This result was obtained with good power estimates (.997-1.00) and large effect sizes (02 = .267 - .732). Both groups of children performed the same on modulation of visual input affecting emotional responses and activity level. This study provides initial evidence that clear differences exist in the sensory processing patterns of children with Asperger’s Syndrome when compared with peers without disabilities.

The children in Asperger’s (1944) study displayed a range of hyposensitivities and hypersensitivities to taste, tactile, and auditory stimuli. In taste, he found them to have very specific likes and dislikes. For example, many preferred very sour or strongly spiced foods. Similarly, the children had a strong dislike for certain fabrics or an aversion to specific daily life activities containing strong tactile sensory input, such as cutting fingernails. The children displayed extreme levels of noise sensitivity; at times, they were hypersensitive to noise in certain environments and appeared to be hyposensitive to the same noises in other environments. Further, the children manifested a lack of respect or understanding for other people and their space. Asperger reported that they leaned on total strangers who touched them as if they were pieces of furniture.

Group performance (raw) scores reveal that the confidence intervals for the two groups are quite separate from each other, making differentiation between performance of children with and without Asperger’s Syndrome clear. That is, children with Asperger’s Syndrome consistently have lower scores (i.e., always displays the behaviour = 1) than children without disabilities. As reported by the parents, the children with Asperger’s Syndrome demonstrated a significantly different pattern of sensory processing from their peers without disabilities according to the Sensory Profile, suggesting a sensory processing correlate in Asperger’s Syndrome that needs to be included in the diagnosis

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