International Meeting for Autism Research: A Cross Cultural Comparison of Sensory Behaviors in Children with ASD From the USA and Israel

A Cross Cultural Comparison of Sensory Behaviors in Children with ASD From the USA and Israel

Thursday, May 20, 2010
Franklin Hall B Level 4 (Philadelphia Marriott Downtown)
11:00 AM
K. Caron , Occupational Therapy, Scarborough School District, Scarborough, MN
R. Schaaf , Department of Occupational Therapy, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
T. Benevides , Occupational Therapy, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
E. Gal , Occupational Therapy, University of Haifa, Timrat, Israel
Background: Evidence suggests that a person's cultural background has an effect on various facets of development, illness, and behavior.  Sensory perceptual abnormalities in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are common (85-90%) (Klienz & Dunn, 1997; Rogers et al., 2003; Tomchek & Dunn, 2007) and have been described in the perception of sound, vision, touch, taste, and smell, as well as in kinaesthetic perception and proprioception. Sensory experiences are described by individuals with ASD as both a source of distress and anxiety as well as of fascination and interest (Jones, Quigney, & Huws, 2003) that can have a profound effect on their quality of life by limiting full participation in home, school, and community activities (Kay, 2001; Baranek, David, Poe, Stone & Watson, 2006).
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to determine if differences exist in sensory behaviors of individuals from two cultures.  This study examined differences in sensory modulation between  children with ASD who live in the USA and in Israel and between  typically developing children from the two countries.
Methods: Short Sensory Profile scores (McIntosh, Miller, & Shyu, 1999) were compared between a cohort of children with ASD and a cohort of typically developing children from Israel and the USA.  A retrospective chart review of datasets from two separate, larger investigations was used to gather data.   Subjects from both data sets who met the current study’s inclusion/exclusion criteria for this study were entered into one database for group comparison.  
Results: Parents of children with ASD from both cultures rated their children as having difficulties with sensory modulation (> -1.0 SD) on the Short Sensory Profile, but subjects from Israel were rated higher (less difficulty) in the auditory and visual domains. Typically developing subjects from both countries scored within the normal ranges, but subjects from Israel scored significantly higher (less difficulty) than those from the US on 4 of the 7 subdomains and on the total test score.
Conclusions: Parents from Israel reported less severe sensory modulation problems in the visual and auditory domains for their children with ASD.  In addition, parents from Israel rated their typically developing children as having less problems in sensory modulation overall (total test score) in the tactile, auditory filtering, visual/auditory sensitivity; and under-responsive/seeks sensation domains.  These findings have important implications for assessment and intervention.  It is important that cultural differences are taken into consideration and that culturally sensitive assessments and interventions for problems in sensory modulation in the ASD population be developed.
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