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Am J Occup Ther. 2012 Sep-Oct;66(5):e81-4. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2012.004465.

Precursors and trajectories of sensory features: qualitative analysis of infant home videos.

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  • 1Department of Allied Health Sciences, Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Bondurant Hall CB# 7122, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7122, USA.


OBJECTIVE. This study explored precursors and trajectories of extreme sensory patterns in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) compared with children with developmental delay (DD). METHOD. We conducted a retrospective analysis of home videos of 12 infants who later displayed extreme presence or absence of three sensory patterns at preschool and school age. RESULTS. In ASD, hyporesponsiveness was most evident in infancy, followed by sensory repetitions. Hyporesponsiveness appeared stable over time and also was a precursor of sensory seeking. Infants with DD had few sensory precursors. CONCLUSION. Precursors of extreme sensory features emerge early in children with ASD and appear relatively stable over time for a pattern of hyporesponsiveness but less stable for patterns of hyperresponsiveness and sensory seeking. These findings highlight the emergent nature of sensory features that may inform early identification and intervention.

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