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Development and pilot validation of a sensory reactivity scale for adults with high functioning autism spectrum conditions: Sensory Reactivity in Autism Spectrum (SR-AS)
Örebro University, School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Sweden. Psychiatric Research Centre.
Örebro University, School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Sweden. Psychiatric Research Centre.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2157-8579
Habilitation and Rehabilitation For Adults, Växjö, Sweden.
Örebro University, School of Health and Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Sweden. Psychiatric Research Centre.
2016 (English)In: Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, ISSN 0803-9488, E-ISSN 1502-4725, Vol. 70, no 2, 103-110 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Resource type
Text
Abstract [en]

Background: Unusual reactions to sensory stimuli are experienced by 90-95% of people with an autism spectrum condition (ASC). Self-reported sensory reactivity in ASC has mainly been measured with generic questionnaires developed and validated on data from the general population. Interest in sensory reactivity in ASC increased after the inclusion of hyper- and hypo-reactivity together with unusual sensory interest as diagnostic markers of ASC in the DSM-5.

Aims: To develop and pilot validate a self-report questionnaire designed from first-hand descriptions of the target group of adults diagnosed with high functioning ASC. Psychometric properties of the questionnaire were evaluated on a sample of participants with ASC diagnoses (N = 71) and a random sample from the general population (N = 162).

Results: The Sensory Reactivity in Autism Spectrum (SR-AS is intended to be used as a screening tool in diagnostic processes with adults and for support in adapting compensating strategies and environmental adjustments. The internal consistency was high for both the SR-AS and its subscales. The total scale Cronbach's alpha was 0.96 and the subscales alphas were 0.80. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) showed best fit for a four-factor model of inter-correlated factors: hyper and hypo-reactivity, strong sensory interest and a sensory/motor factor. The questionnaire discriminated well between ASC-diagnosed participants and participants from the general population.

Conclusions: The SR-AS displayed good internal consistency and discriminatory power and promising factorial validity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2016. Vol. 70, no 2, 103-110 p.
Keyword [en]
Autism spectrum, Psychometric validation, Scale development, Sensory reactivity
National Category
Psychiatry
Research subject
Psychiatry
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-47286DOI: 10.3109/08039488.2015.1053984ISI: 000366184300004PubMedID: 26158770Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84949437448OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-47286DiVA: diva2:891429
Note

Funding Agencies:

Research Committee of Örebro County Council

Uppsala-Örebro Regional Research Council

Available from: 2016-01-07 Created: 2016-01-04 Last updated: 2016-03-29Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Description and measurement of sensory symptoms in autism spectrum
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Description and measurement of sensory symptoms in autism spectrum
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Unusual responses to sensory stimuli have been reported in nearly all children with autism spectrum conditions (ASC). A few studies on adults indicate that the sensory and perceptual problems persist into adulthood. Sensory symptoms have not been included in the diagnostic criteria for ASC but in the new diagnostic manual (DSM-5, 2013) hyper- or hyporeactivity or unusual sensory interests were included in the diagnostic criteria for ASC. Sensory phenomena are mostly investigated in studies involving children and the scales used to measure sensory reactivity have been constructed on the basis of the scientific literature and parents’ reports. The experiences of adults with ASC are not well understood and have not been systematically used to develop measures.

The overall aim of the thesis was to capture the first-hand experiences of and perspectives on sensory reactivity and translate them into a self-rating scale. To fulfil this overarching aim the personal sensory experiences of adults with ASC were investigated and the variations and range of atypical sensory phenomena explored and described in two qualitative studies (study I and II). The analyses of the firstperson descriptions enabled the development of items for a scale. These were reduced in steps and the final scale which was named the Sensory Reactivity in Autism Spectrum scale (SR-AS) comprised 32 items in four subscales: high awareness/ hyperreactivity, low awareness/hyporeactivity, strong sensory interests and sensory/motor. The SR-AS was validated using content and factor analyses. Its discriminative validity was then investigated as well as its reliability in the form of internal consistency (study III). In the final step the scale was used to identify clusters of atypical sensory functioning in adults with ASC by hierarchical cluster analysis (study IV). Three different sensory clusters were found.

The main contribution of this thesis is its presentation of individual experience and perspectives and the creation of an clinical tool to measure atypical sensory reactivity frequently experienced by people with ASC. The ways in which the SR-AS can be used comprise assessment of individual sensory patterns for self-knowledge and awareness, to enable the development of coping strategies and to provide information on environmental adjustments required. In diagnostic processes where other criteria for ASC are fulfilled the SR-AS can be used for assessing sensory symptoms according to the DSM-5.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro university, 2016. 85 p.
Series
Örebro Studies in Medicine, ISSN 1652-4063 ; 139
Keyword
Autism spectrum, sensory, perception, qualitative research, scale development, scale validation, sensory clusters
National Category
Family Medicine
Research subject
Medicine
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-48130 (URN)978-91-7529-129-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-04-22, Universitetssjukhuset, hörsal C3, Södra Grev Rosengatan, Örebro, 09:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-02-09 Created: 2016-02-09 Last updated: 2016-04-01Bibliographically approved

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