While there has been considerable clinical and research effort in delineating the problems of social interaction, communication, and cognition in those with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), the disturbances of sensory processing and the performance of emotion regulation remain less explored. Emotion regulation is the modification of any process in the system that generates emotion or its manifestation in behavior. The processes that modify emotions come from the same set of processes as the ones that are involved in emotion in the first place. Levels of emotion regulation are one of the main concerns of caregivers and occupational therapists because they are essential for helping with the integration of a child into daycare and school. However, emotion regulation is not documented much in scientific literature on ASDs.
Sensory processing involves the registration and modulation of sensory information, as well as the internal organization of sensory input. This allows human beings to execute successful adaptive responses to situational demands and thus engage meaningfully in daily occupations (Humphry, 2002). Approximately 10% of the pediatric populations in the United States have severe over- or under-responsiveness to sensory stimuli that interfere with activities of daily living (ADL) (Ahn, Miller, & Milberger, 2002). Although sensory over-responsivity has been identified in children with specific diagnoses such as autism (Baranek et al. 2006; Liss et al. 2006; Miller et al. 2007; Rogers & Ozonoff 2005), occupational therapists often receive referrals for children with ASDs to mitigate sensory processing difficulties and help families cope more effectively. Sensory over-responsivity, however, has only been minimally described separate of this diagnosis (Kinnealey and Fuiek 1999; Kinnealey et al., 1995) and has still failed to be recognized... [continues]
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