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Autism Research and Treatment
Volume 2013, Article ID 436286, 9 pages
Clinical Study

Sensory Response Patterns in Nonverbal Children with ASD

1Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, The University of North Carolina, Greensboro, 300 Ferguson Building, Greensboro, NC 27412, USA
2The University of Wisconsin-Madison, 3195 Medical Sciences Center, 1300 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706, USA
3Division of Speech & Hearing Sciences, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB No. 7190 Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA
4Division of Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB No. 7122 Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA

Received 21 February 2013; Revised 10 June 2013; Accepted 17 June 2013

Academic Editor: Herbert Roeyers

Copyright © 2013 Elena Patten et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We sought to examine concurrent and longitudinal associations between sensory response patterns (i.e., hyperresponsiveness, hyporesponsiveness, and sensory seeking) and verbal status of young children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as a potential factor influencing the development of verbal communication. Seventy-nine children with ASD (verbal, ; nonverbal, ) were assessed using cross-sectional analyses (Study 1), and 14 children with ASD (verbal, ; nonverbal, ) were assessed using prospective longitudinal analyses (Study 2). Data were collected regarding sensory response patterns and verbal ability. Hyporesponsiveness and sensory seeking behaviors were associated with verbal status in both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses; nonverbal children were more likely to demonstrate higher hyporesponsive and sensory seeking patterns. Hyperresponsiveness did not significantly differ between verbal and nonverbal groups in either design. Sensory hyporesponsiveness and seeking behaviors may be important factors hindering the development of functional verbal communication in children with ASD. Unusual sensory responsiveness can often be observed before the onset of speech and may yield important prognostic capabilities as well as inform early interventions targeting verbal communication or alternative communication options in young children with ASD.