Importance: Children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are often referred to occupational therapy practitioners so their sensory features and their repetitive and restricted behaviors and interests (RRBIs) can be addressed. RRBIs include an insistence on sameness, narrow interests, rigid routines, and rituals. However, there is a paucity of knowledge concerning the association between sensory features—across patterns, modalities, and contexts—and high-order RRBIs among children with ASD who are cognitively able.
Objective: To examine the association between sensory features across sensory patterns, modalities, and contexts and high-order RRBIs in children with ASD.
Design: Correlational clinical study based on parent questionnaire responses.
Setting: General education system in Israel.
Participants: Parents of 39 cognitively able school-age children with ASD (ages 6–10 yr; 34 boys and 5 girls), recruited by means of convenience sampling.
Outcomes: High-order RRBIs were assessed with relevant subscales from the Repetitive Behavior Scale–Revised (RBS–R), and sensory features across patterns, modalities, and contexts were examined with the Sensory Experiences Questionnaire, Version 2.1. The study hypotheses were formulated before data were collected.
Results: Significant correlations were observed between the high-order RRBIs of children with ASD and their sensory features across patterns, sensory modalities, and contexts. Fifty-one percent of the total RBS–R scores were predicted by sensory hyperresponsiveness, and an additional 11% were predicted by sensory-seeking behaviors.
Conclusions and Relevance: The hypotheses concerning the association between sensory features and high-order RRBIs were confirmed. The findings enhance occupational therapy practitioners’ understanding of this association and may assist in the planning of more efficient interventions.
What This Article Adds: The findings enhance clinical knowledge concerning the association between sensory features and high-order RRBIs and may lay a better foundation for occupational therapy interventions for children with ASD and their families.