Diagnostic validity of sensory over-responsivity: a review of the literature and case reports

J Autism Dev Disord. 2008 Mar;38(3):516-29. doi: 10.1007/s10803-007-0418-9. Epub 2007 Oct 5.


Atypical responses to sensory stimulation are frequently reported to co-occur with diagnoses such as autism, ADHD, and Fragile-X syndrome. It has also been suggested that children and adults may present with atypical sensory responses while failing to meet the criteria for other medical or psychological diagnoses. This may be particularly true for individuals with over-responsivity to sensation. This article reviews the literature related to sensory over-responsivity and presents three pediatric cases that present a profile of having sensory over-responsivity without a co-occurring diagnosis. Findings from these cases provide very preliminary evidence to support the suggestion that sensory over-responsivity can occur as a sole diagnosis. Within this small group, tactile over-responsivity was the most common and pervasive form of this condition.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Asperger Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Child
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Galvanic Skin Response / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensation Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Terminology as Topic