Sensory features of young children from a large community sample: Latent factor structures of Sensory Experiences Questionnaire (Version 2.1, Short Form)

American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 76, 7603205140

Importance: Although three sensory factors (hyperresponsiveness [HYPO]; hyporesponsiveness [HYPER]; and sensory interests, repetitions, and seeking behaviors [SIRS]) have been demonstrated among a wide age range of clinical populations, they have not been well validated in the general population, especially with a large community sample of young children.

Objective: To validate the factor structure of the Sensory Experiences Questionnaire (Version 2.1, Short Form; SEQv2.1) in a community sample and to confirm the factor structure’s existence in this sample.

Design: Caregivers completed the SEQv2.1, a parent-reported questionnaire designed to capture children’s everyday sensory experiences. The latent factors of the SEQv2.1 were examined using confirmatory factor analysis.

Setting: North Carolina.

Participants: Caregivers of 2,195 children age 3 yr were initially recruited through state birth records and were eligible to participate if the child did not have a history of serious medical problems and English was the family’s primary language.

Outcomes and Measures: SEQv2.1.

Results: The SEQv2.1 showed validity in the community sample. Similar to previous research with clinical populations, the three broad patterns of sensory responsiveness were also confirmed in this large community sample of young children, but associations among the factors differed.

Conclusions and Relevance: Validation of the three-sensory-factor structure in the general population suggests that these constructs are similar to those found with samples of participants with autism spectrum disorder and developmental disabilities. This finding underscores the importance of understanding the normative development of sensory features across a wider age range to better delineate qualitative differences underlying sensory features between clinical and general populations.

What This Article Adds: Occupational therapists seeking to assess children’s sensory features can use the SEQv2.1 not only with clinical samples but also with children in the general population.