Sensory processing in children with and without autism: a comparative study using the short sensory profile

Am J Occup Ther. 2007 Mar-Apr;61(2):190-200. doi: 10.5014/ajot.61.2.190.


Objective: The purpose of this study is to investigate differences in sensory processing among age-matched children between ages 3 and 6 years with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and those who are typically developing.

Method: Reported sensory processing abilities of 281 children with ASD were compared to age-matched peers who were typically developing, using the Short Sensory Profile (SSP).

Results: Ninety-five percent of the sample of children with ASD demonstrated some degree of sensory processing dysfunction on the SSP Total Score, with the greatest differences reported on the Underresponsive/ Seeks Sensation, Auditory Filtering, and Tactile Sensitivity sections. The ASD group also performed significantly differently (p < .001) on 92% of the items, total score, and all sections of the SSP.

Conclusion: These findings, considered with similar published studies, begin to confirm the prevalence and types of sensory processing impairments in autism. Further research is needed to more clearly define patterns of sensory processing in people with ASD.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder*
  • Child
  • Child Development
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity*
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / instrumentation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Audit
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Somatosensory Disorders / diagnosis
  • Somatosensory Disorders / epidemiology
  • Somatosensory Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • United States / epidemiology