Sensory Features of Toddlers at Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE. We observed sensory features in toddlers ages 12–24 mo with risk factors for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and explored their relationship to general development and early signs of ASD.

METHOD. Participants (N = 46) included toddlers with higher risk for ASD. All participants were administered standardized assessments of sensory features, early signs of ASD, and general development at a single study visit.

RESULTS. Sensory features in toddlers were characterized as either adaptive or reactive. Toddlers with more difficulties in oral sensory processing displayed more early signs of ASD. Typical oral and auditory processing were associated with higher cognitive function, and toddlers with fewer sensory features overall had more mature language skills.

CONCLUSION. Specific sensory features were associated with both early signs of ASD and less mature general development. Replication of this preliminary study is required.

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