Tuesday, March 17, 2009

ASD and Sensory Sensitivities

This is certainly not news to those who work with young ASD children on sensory processing skills. The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders published research stating that young autistic children experience specific sensory sensitivities with regards to tactile input, taste, smell and auditory filtering when compared to other children with different developmental disabilities. The researchers recommend that these differences are considered as specific symptoms in young children with autism.

It still leaves the question - is sensory processing disorder a diagnosis or a symptom of other disabilities?? In my non expert opinion, this research study is a score for the theory that sensory sensitivities are a symptom and not a disorder by itself. Any comments?

Reference: Lisa D. Wiggins1, Diana L. Robins, Roger Bakeman1 and Lauren B. Adamson (2009) Brief Report: Sensory Abnormalities as Distinguishing Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Young Children Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders Published online March 13, 2009 doi 10.1007/s10803-009-0711-x

1 comment:

Chris said...

I've tried sparking debate on this topic several times, most recently at http://abctherapeutics.blogspot.com/2008/12/empirical-vs-innate-knowledge-in.html

The problem with the concept of sensory processing disorder, if it exists, is that there is little clinical utility in the designation. We don't have sophisticated enough tools to tease apart sensory from behavioral characteristics of other disorders.

The tools that we DO have are being used to make bigger statements than I professionally feel comfortable making. I don't think we can talk about percentages of kids having some unique disorder when kids with other 'known' disorders are shown to also score poorly on the test.

In my opinion, this makes for a weak foundation from which to develop a position for diagnostic inclusion of SPD. Unfortunately, not many people want to have an open debate about it - on the web at least.

Our science in this area is in a very nascent stage of development. Admitting that is not heresy - or even nay saying. It is just reflective of an expressed interest to move it forward at a logical pace and in an unbiased direction.