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Brain Sci. 2017, 7(8), 108; doi:10.3390/brainsci7080108

Assessing Sensory Processing Dysfunction in Adults and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Scoping Review

1
Rehabilitation Sciences Institute, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5G 1V7, Canada
2
Adult Neurodevelopmental Service, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, ON M6J 1H4, Canada
3
Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5G 1V7, Canada
4
Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5G 1V7, Canada
5
Bloorview Research Institute, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Toronto, ON M4G 1R8, Canada
6
Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5T 1R8, Canada
7
Temerty Centre for Therapeutic Brain Intervention, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health; Toronto, ON M6J 1H4, Canada
8
March of Dimes Canada, Toronto, ON M4H 1A4, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 5 July 2017 / Revised: 4 August 2017 / Accepted: 14 August 2017 / Published: 19 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Autism Spectrum Disorder: From Etio-Pathology to Treatment)
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Abstract

Sensory reactivity is a diagnostic criterion for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and has been associated with poorer functional outcomes, behavioral difficulties, and autism severity across the lifespan. Yet, there is little consensus on best practice approaches to assessing sensory processing dysfunction in adolescents and adults with ASD. Despite growing evidence that sensory symptoms persist into adolescence and adulthood, there is a lack of norms for older age groups, and pediatric assessments may not target appropriate functional outcomes or environments. This review identified approaches used to measure sensory processing in the scientific literature, and to describe and compare these approaches to current best practice guidelines that can be incorporated into evidence-based practice. Method and Analysis: A search of scientific databases and grey literature (professional association and ASD society websites), from January 1987–May 2017, uncovered 4769 articles and 12 clinical guidelines. Study and sample characteristics were extracted, charted, and categorized according to assessment approach. Results: There were 66 articles included after article screening. Five categories of assessment approaches were identified: Self- and Proxy-Report Questionnaires, Psychophysical Assessment, Direct Behavioral Observation, Qualitative Interview Techniques, and Neuroimaging/EEG. Sensory research to date has focused on individuals with high-functioning ASD, most commonly through the use of self-report questionnaires. The Adolescent and Adult Sensory Profile (AASP) is the most widely used assessment measure (n = 22), however, a number of other assessment approaches may demonstrate strengths specific to the ASD population. Multi-method approaches to assessment (e.g., combining psychophysical or observation with questionnaires) may have clinical applicability to interdisciplinary clinical teams serving adolescents and adults with ASD. Contribution: A comprehensive knowledge of approaches is critical in the clinical assessment of a population characterized by symptomatic heterogeneity and wide-ranging cognitive profiles. This review should inform future development of international interdisciplinary clinical guidelines on sensory processing assessment in ASD across the lifespan. View Full-Text
Keywords: sensory processing; sensory reactivity; autism spectrum disorder; clinical guidelines; interdisciplinary; best practice; evidence-based practice; adult sensory processing; sensory reactivity; autism spectrum disorder; clinical guidelines; interdisciplinary; best practice; evidence-based practice; adult
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

DuBois, D.; Lymer, E.; Gibson, B.E.; Desarkar, P.; Nalder, E. Assessing Sensory Processing Dysfunction in Adults and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Scoping Review. Brain Sci. 2017, 7, 108.

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