Abstract

Sensory processing disturbance in autistic children as a predictor of response to sensory integrative procedures was investigated. Ten autistic children, ages 3-½ to 13 years (mean, 7.4 years), were initially evaluated in regard to their hypo-, hyper-, or normal responsivity to visual, auditory, tactile, vestibular, proprioceptive, olfactory, and gustatory stimuli. After evaluation, each child received therapy that provided somatosensory and vestibular stimulation and elicited adaptive responses to these stimuli. At the end of one year of therapy, each child’s progress was judged in relationship to that of the others, and the group was divided into the six best and the four poorest respondents. Stepwise discriminant analysis identified which initial test variables predicted good or poor responses to therapy. The good respondents showed tactile defensiveness, avoidance of movement, gravitational insecurity, and an orienting response to an air puff. Results suggest that children who registered sensory input but failed to modulate it responded better to therapy than those who were hypo-responsive or failed to orient to sensory input.

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