Researchers at the SPD Foundation are currently at work studying the following topics.
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- Multisensory integration in typically developing children
We completed the first study of multisensory integration in children, representing an important and fundamental step toward our goal of understanding multisensory integration in children with Sensory Processing Disorder. Findings from this study were published in 2008 in the journal Brain Research.
- Multisensory integration in children with SPD
Research related to determining whether the different subtypes of children with SPD show evidence of atypical multisensory integration at the cortical level is ongoing. We completed a study of 20 children with the Sensory Over-Responsivity (SOR) subtype of SPD. This study confirms that MSI can be reliably measured in children with SOR. In addition, data suggest that the integration of multisensory (audio-tactile) input appears to be atypical in children with SOR. We currently are increasing our sample size and conducting a direct comparison between children with SPD and those who are typically developing.
- Treatment effectiveness
Two studies on treatment effectiveness using OT with a sensory integration approach (OT-SI) have been completed. Their findings were published in the March-April 2007 issue of the American Occupational Therapy Journal.
Planned is a new treatment effectiveness study measuring multisensory integration and electrodermal activity before and after OT-SI and listening therapy. The purpose will be to obtain behavioral data and determine if any variables in these measures will be useful outcome measures of treatment effectiveness. To date we have pre- and post-case study data on 10 subjects.
We are also conducting a retrospective chart review of ~120 clients seen at STAR Center over the past 3 years. We will be reporting on behavioral changes that result from use of an intensive treatment model.
- Gold standard for diagnosis of SPD
Our work on the Sensory Processing Scales (e.g., measuring Sensory Over- and Under-Responsivity and Sensory Seeking/Craving) continues. These scales are performance measures administered directly to the child (not parent-report measures as are currently used). An article was published by the American Journal of Occupational Therapy in August 2008 with research from two separate samples on the SP scales (Sensory Over-Responsive subtest (n > 200). A pilot version of the Sensory Under-Responsive and Sensory Seeking/Craving subscales has been constructed and field tested by half a dozen experienced occupational therapists. Revisions are currently underway based on their feedback. Having a performance measure for SOR, SUR, and SS is critical for collecting a homogeneous sample in research, for clinical precision in identifying children who need services, and for designing appropriate treatment services.
- Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) study
The aim of this study was to characterize the sensory functioning of individuals with PWS using behavioral and physiologic measures. Specifically, we used an extensive parent interview and parent-report measures. We also measured autonomic nervous systi function in individuals with PWS in reaction to sensory stimuli using the Sensory Challenge Protocol as was used in our previous studies with children who have SPD, ADHD, autistic spectrum disorders, and Fragile X Disorder. We completed parent interviews, physiologic testing, and parent report measures of sensory behaviors on 12 children with PWS. Preliminary findings were presented at the Foundation for Research in Prader-Willi annual conference 2007. A manuscript is in preparation for submission in 2010.
- Other publications
An article entitled "Perspectives on Sensory Processing Disorder: A Call for Translational Research" was published in the 2009 SPD special issue of Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience. Spearheaded by Dr. Lucy Jane Miller, this article explores the convergence between two fields, the clinical field of sensory integration and the basic neuroscience field of sensory integration. This can be confusing due to terminology overlap and since one is a basic science field and the other is clinical we are calling in this paper for the two fields to collaborate! This would be especially useful for those who study multisensory integration (MSI).
Also published in the 2009 special SPD issue of Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience was an article entitled "Physiological and Behavioral Differences in Sensory Processing: A Comparison of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Modulation Disorder". Led by Dr. Sarah A. Schoen, this paper describes the first research study to directly compare and contrast children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and children with Sensory Modulation Disorder (SMD). Results indicated that physiological arousal was significantly lower in children with ASD, whereas reactivity in response to each sensory stimulus was higher in SMD, particularly to the first stimulus in each sensory domain. Additionally, the ASD group had more taste/smell sensitivity and sensory under-responsivity, while the SMD group had more atypical sensory seeking behavior.
Research published or in press by the SPDF
The following peer-reviewed research by the SPD Foundation has been published or is currently in press. Click on a title to read the article in Our Library.
- Lucy Jane Miller, Darci M. Nielsen, Sarah A. Schoen (2012)
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and sensory modulaton disorder: A comparison of behavior and physiology
Research in Developmental Disabilities.
- Brett-Green BA, Miller LJ, Schoen SA, Nielsen DM. (2010)
An exploratory event-related potential study of multisensory integration in sensory over-responsive children.
Brain Research. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2010.01.043
- Miller LJ, Nielsen DM, Schoen SA, Brett-Green BA. (2009)
Perspectives on sensory processing disorder: a call for translational research.
Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience. 3:22. doi: 10.3389/neuro.07.022.2009.
- Schoen SA, Miller LJ, Brett-Green BA, Nielsen DM. (2009)
Physiological and behavioral differences in sensory processing: a comparison of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Modulation Disorder.
Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience. 3:29. doi: 10.3389/neuro.07.029.2009.
- Schoen SA, Miller LJ, Green K (2008)
Pilot study of the Sensory Over-Responsivity scales: Assessment and inventory.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 62 (7-8), 393-406.
- Brett-Green BA, Miller LJ, Gavin WJ, Davies Pl.(2008)
Multisensory integration in children: A Preliminary ERP study.
Brain Research. 1242, 283-290.
- Gabriels RL, Agnew JA, Miller LJ, Gralla J, Pan Z, Goldson E, Ledbetter JC, Dinkins JP,
Hooks E. (2008)
Is there a relationship between restricted, repetitive, stereotyped behaviors and interests and abnormal sensory response in children with autism spectrum disorders?
Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 2(4) 660-670.
- Schoen SA, Miller LJ, Brett-Green B, Hepburn, SL. (2008)
Psychophysiology of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. 64 (2-3), 417-429.
- Mailloux Z, May-Benson TA, Summers CA, Miller LJ, Brett-Green B, Burke JP, Cohn ES, Koomar JA, Parham LD, Smith Roley S, Schaaf RC, Schoen SA. (2007)
Goal attainment scaling as a measure of meaningful outcomes for children with sensory integration disorders.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 61 (2), 254-259.
- Miller LJ, Coll JR, Schoen SA. (2007)
A randomized controlled pilot study of the effectiveness of occupational therapy for children with sensory modulation disorder.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 61 (2), 228-238.
- Parham LD, Cohn ES, Spitzer S, Koomar JA, Miller LJ, Burke JP, Brett-Green B,
Mailloux Z, May-Benson TA, Smith Roley S, Schaaf RC, Schoen SA, Summers CA. (2007)
Fidelity in sensory integration intervention research.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 61 (2), 216-227.
- Bundy AC, Shia S, Qi L, Miller, LJ. (2007)
How does sensory processing dysfunction affect play?
American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 61 (2), 201-208.
- Miller LJ, Schoen SA, James K, Schaaf RC. (2007)
Lessons learned: A pilot study on occupational therapy effectiveness for children with sensory modulation disorder.
The American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 61 (2), 161-169.
- Miller LJ, Anzalone ME, Lane SJ, Cermak SA, Osten ET. (2007)
Concept evolution in sensory integration: A proposed nosology for diagnosis.
American Journal of Occupational Therapy. 61 (2), 135-140.
Key articles related to the validity of SPD
- Ben-Sasson A, Carter AS, Briggs-Gowan MJ. (2010)
The development of sensory over-responsivity from infancy to elementary school
Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
- Ben-Sasson A, Carter AS, Briggs-Gowan MJ (2009)
Sensory over-responsivity in elementary school: prevalence and social-emotional correlates
Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
- Schneider ML, Moore CF, Gajewski LL, Larson JA, Roberts AD, Converse AK, DeJesus OT (2008)
Sensory Processing Disorder in a Primate Model: Evidence from a Longitudinal Study of Prenatal Alcohol and Prenatal Stress Effects
Child Development, 79(1), 100-113.
- Davies PL, Gavin WJ (2007)
Validating the diagnosis of sensory processing disorders using EEG technology
American Journal of Occupational Therapy 61, 176-189.
- Alvarado JD, Vaughan JW, Stanford TR, Stein BE (2007)
Multisensory Versus Unisensory Integration: Contrasting Modes in the Superior Colliculus
Journal of Neurophysiology 97, 3193-3205.
- Goldsmith HH, Van Hulle CA, Arneson CL, Schreiber JE, Gernsbacher MA (2006)
A Population-Based Twin Study of Parentally Reported Tactile and Auditory Defensiveness in Young Children
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 34(3), 393–407.
- Kisley MA, Noecker TL, Guinther PM (2004)
Comparison of sensory gating to mismatch negativity and self-reported perceptual phenomena in healthy adults
Psychophysiology 41, 604–612.
View more articles from our SPD Scientific Work Group in Our Library
Numerous additional peer-reviewed articles and other publications of SPD Foundation researchers are filed by topic area in Our Library.
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