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Jerilyn (Gigi) Smith, PhD, OTR/L


Background: Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) frequently have feeding and eating difficulties as well as unusual responses to sensory stimuli. This can lead to significantly compromised occupational performance.

Method: A secondary data analysis study design was used to investigate sensory processing characteristics as predictors of feeding and eating disturbances. Study subjects were children aged 2 to 14 years (N = 171) with ASD. The Short Sensory Profile (SSP) was used to determine the child’s sensory processing abilities. Correlational and multiple regression methods were employed to analyze the relationship between sensory processing and feeding and eating behaviors.

Results: Results suggest that six out of eight of the sensory domains from the SSP were predictive of eating behaviors.

Discussion: This study provides evidence to inform practice regarding the association of sensory processing and eating behaviors and supports the need for assessing sensory processing in children with ASD.