OBJECTIVE. The purpose of the study was to determine if there were significant relationships between dysfunction in sensory modulation, symptoms of affective disorders, and adaptive behaviors in children and adolescents with Asperger’s disorder between 6 and 17 years of age.
METHOD. Parents of 50 children and adolescents between 6 and 17 years of age diagnosed with Asperger’s disorder based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV criteria completed the (a) Sensory Profile for children 6 to 10 years of age or the Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile for adolescents 11 to 17 years of age; (b) the Adaptive Behavior Assessment System: Parent Version; (c) Revised Children’s Manifest Anxiety Scale Adapted Parent’s Version; and (d) the Children’s Depression Inventory Adapted Parent’s Version. Descriptive statistics and the Pearson product-moment coefficient of correlation calculations were used for data analysis.
RESULTS. The results indicated that there were significantly strong positive correlations between sensory defensiveness and anxiety (r = .476, p = .000) in children and adolescents with Asperger’s disorder. There were also significant relationships between symptoms of depression and hyposensitivity in the total group (r = .214, p = .05) and the older group (r = .492, p = .027). There were no significant relationships between depression and overall adaptive behavior (r = –.243, p = .089) or anxiety and overall adaptive behavior (r = –.108, p = .455). Significantly strong inverse relationships were found between the specific adaptive behaviors of functional academics, leisure, social skills, and symptoms of depression. Functional academics were also significantly inversely related to anxiety. Specifically, sensory hyper- and hypersensitivity were significantly inversely related to community use and social skills.
CONCLUSION. The data supports positive relationships between anxiety and sensory defensiveness in all age ranges and a relationship between depression and hyposensitivity in older children. Stronger inverse relationships were apparent between specific adaptive behaviors including: (a) symptoms of depression and functional academics, leisure, social skills; (b) anxiety and functional academics; and (c) both sensory hyper- and hyposensitivity and community use and social skills. In this study, as the symptoms of affective disorders increased in children and adolescents with Asperger’s disorder, the functional performance in the adaptive behaviors of functional academics and social skills appeared to decrease. Performance in the adaptive behaviors of community use and socials skills appeared to decrease as symptoms of dysfunction in sensory modulation increase. Further research is necessary to determine the impact of treatment for dysfunction on sensory modulation on affective disorders and performance in specific adaptive behaviors.