Sensory Processing and Community Participation in Autistic Adults Public Deposited

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  • Bagatell, Nancy
    • Affiliation: School of Medicine, Department of Allied Health Sciences
  • Chan, Dara V.
    • Affiliation: School of Medicine, Department of Allied Health Sciences
  • Syu, Ya-Cing
    • Affiliation: School of Medicine, Department of Allied Health Sciences
  • Lamarche, Elena M.
    • Affiliation: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Klinger, Laura G.
    • Affiliation: School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry
  • Background Sensory processing differences have been shown to impact involvement in community activities. However, relatively little is known about how these differences affect community participation in autistic adults. Objective The objective of this study was to explore how sensory processing patterns of autistic adults impact community participation, including where people go, what they do, the amount of time in the community, and preferred locations. Methods We used data gathered from six autistic adults and their caregivers who participated in two studies. From Study 1, we reviewed results of the Adolescent and Adult Sensory Profile (AASP) and transcripts from interviews with caregivers. From Study 2, we reviewed GPS tracking data and transcripts from structured interviews with autistic adults focused on community participation. We read transcript data, identified quotes related to sensory processing and community participation and constructed individual participant narratives which linked findings from interviews, AASP, and GPS tracking. Results Participants included three males and three females ranging in age from 29 to 51. Each participant had a unique sensory processing profile that influenced where they went, the activities in which they engaged, how much time they spent in the community, and their preferred locations. Those whose sensory processing patterns indicated sensory sensitivity and sensory avoiding described the experience of certain environments as overwhelming and fatiguing and thus spent less time in the community and visited fewer places than those with other sensory processing patterns. Conclusion Results highlight the importance of sensory processing, especially as it impacts participation in the community. Sensory processing patterns should be considered along with other personal and contextual factors when assessing community participation and personal sensory processing patterns should be matched with activities and environmental demands.
Date of publication
Resource type
  • Article
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Attribution 4.0 International
Journal title
  • Frontiers in Psychology
Journal volume
  • 13
  • English
  • Publisher
  • 1664-1078

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