Abstract

Sensory processing differences in preschool-age children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affect their engagement in everyday activities, thereby influencing opportunities to practice and develop skills such as social communication and adaptive behavior. The purpose of this study was to investigate the extent to which specific sensory processing patterns relate to aspects of development (i.e., adaptive behavior, expressive and receptive language, fine and gross motor skills, social behavior) in a sample of preschool-age children with ASD (N = 400). A retrospective chart review was used to gather clinical data. Results suggest that sensory processing patterns differentially affect children’s developmental skills and adaptive behavior. Certain sensory processing patterns predicted children’s development of language, motor, and adaptive skills. These findings have clear implications for occupational therapy practice with young children with ASD. Practitioners should consider how sensory processing in ASD both supports and limits children’s ability to engage in social communication and learning opportunities.

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