Sensory processing patterns in developmental coordination disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and typical development

Res Dev Disabil. 2020 May;100:103608. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2020.103608. Epub 2020 Feb 19.


Background: Sensory processing difficulties (SPD) are present in children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) and Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, little is known about sensory processing variability in these disorders.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore SPD among children with DCD, ADHD and co-occurring symptoms in comparison to children with typical development (TD) and to determine how potential social confounders may influence these associations.

Methods: The study involved 452 children aged 6-12 years. The Short Sensory Profile-2 was used to assess sensory processing patterns. Multiple linear regressions were utilized to investigate the relationship between DCD, ADHD and co-occurring symptoms and sensory processing patterns, adjusting for social covariates.

Results: Children with DCD and ADHD symptoms showed greater variability of atypical sensory processing patterns compared with TD children. Low registration and sensory sensibility issues were more prevalent in the DCD group. ADHD children showed higher rates of low registration, sensory sensibility and sensory seeking, and all children in the co-occurring symptoms group presented sensory sensibility.

Conclusion: This study reports significant variability in sensory processing among children with DCD, ADHD and co-occurring symptoms using a population-based sample. These differences can contribute to understand how neurological and social factors correlates across diagnoses.

Keywords: Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder; Co-occurring symptoms; Developmental coordination disorder; Sensory patterns; Sensory processing; Sensory processing disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Educational Status
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Skills Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Perception
  • Perceptual Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Phenotype
  • Self-Control*
  • Sensory Thresholds*
  • Sex Factors