Sensory reactivity assessment in children: A systematic review

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AIM: To identify sensory reactivity assessments published in the literature for children aged 3 to 12 years and evaluate their psychometric properties to select the most appropriate one for adaptation to South Africa, with implications for other low- and middle-income countries.

METHOD: We addressed the following two review questions. What tests have been published in the literature in the past 30 years to evaluate sensory reactivity with children aged 3 to 12 years? What is the validity and reliability of the tests reported in the studies? The COnsensus-based standards for the Selection of health Measurement INstruments (COSMIN) methodology was used. We searched eight databases. Two reviewers independently screened and selected the studies.

RESULTS: The reviewers identified 41 studies, representing 19 assessments. The most common type of assessment was the proxy-reported caregiver questionnaire. Sensory systems most often assessed were visual, tactile, auditory, and vestibular. Study populations included those with autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and children born preterm. Ratings for measurement properties of most assessments were moderate to low.

INTERPRETATION: Limited psychometric information was reported, with low ratings for many properties. The Sensory Processing 3-Dimensions Scale was selected on the basis of its psychometric properties and alignment with best-practice recommendation to use a caregiver questionnaire and a performance test to assess sensory reactivity.


Mac Keith Press

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Developmental medicine and child neurology