Date of Submission
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
Robert A DiThomaso, PhD, ABPP
George McCloskey, PhD, Chairperson
Lisa Hain, PsyD
Dr William Young
In the classroom, distinguishing between sensory modulation disorder (SMD), one proposed subtype of Sensory Processing Disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be difficult given their similar behavioral manifestations. The overlap between these two disorders and the prevelance of rating scales used for gathering diagnostic information warrant a closer look at items on commonly used rating scales to ensure discriminative validity. This pilot study examined specific patterns of SMD in 24 children with ADHD using the Sensory Profile School Companion (SPSC), which includes four components of SMD, namely, Seeking, Avoiding, Registration, and Sensitivity. As hypothesized, the majority of teacher ratings produced scores in the “Definite Difference” range within the Seeking (SS), Registration (SUR), and Sensitivity (SOR) quadrants; however, the majority of children were not rated as having a Definite Difference on the Avoiding quadrant. An item analysis revealed that items comprising Seeking, Registration, and Sensitivity appear too similar to items on commonly used ADHD rating scales and DSM-IV-TR criteria for teachers to behaviorally differentiate ADHD from SMD using this scale; however, items comprising the Avoiding quadrant were unique from those on ADHD rating scales and 33% of the sample were rated as having a Definite Difference in this area. The findings in this study lay the foundation for a more comprehensive study.
Mathison, Jason, "Sensory Processing in Children with ADHD: A Classroom Study and Rational Item Analysis" (2012). PCOM Psychology Dissertations. 212.