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Durham University

Psychology

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Publication details for Professor Deborah Riby

Glod, M., Riby, D. M. & Rodgers, J. (2020). Sensory Processing Profiles and Autistic Symptoms as Predictive Factors in Autism Spectrum Disorder and Williams Syndrome. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research 64(8): 657-665.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Background:
Unusual sensory responses were included in the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), yet they are also common among individuals with other neurodevelopmental disorders, including Williams syndrome (WS). Cross‐syndrome comparisons of sensory atypicalities and the evaluation of their syndrome specificity however have rarely been undertaken. We aimed to (1) examine and compare the sensory profiles in ASD and WS groups and (2) investigate whether autistic symptoms, including sensory processing scores, can predict a group membership.

Methods:
Parents of 26 children with ASD and intellectual disability, 30 parents of children with ASD (no intellectual disability) and 26 with WS aged between 4 and 16 years were recruited. Parents completed the Sensory Profile to provide information about their children's sensory experiences and the Social Responsiveness Scale – Second Edition (SRS‐2) to assess the degree of social impairment in their children.

Results:
No significant differences were found in sensory processing scores between the three groups. Binary logistic regression analyses were undertaken with sensory quadrants and SRS‐2 total score as factors. Models significantly predicted group membership, with Low Registration, Sensory Sensitivity and SRS‐2 total score being significant predictors.

Conclusions:
The findings suggest that high rates of sensory atypicalities are a common neurodevelopmental characteristic that do not reliably distinguish between WS and ASD groups. Low Registration and Sensory Sensitivity‐related behaviours might, however, be more specific to ASD. Further work is needed to explore what behaviours within sensory profiles can discriminate between neurodevelopmental disorders and should be included in diagnostic classifications.

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