Karla Ausderau, PhD

Slide of the Week: Karla Ausderau, PhD

Title: Sensory subtypes in children with autism using a latent profile transition analysis

Legend: Four clinically distinct and homogeneous sensory subtypes were found to characterize children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in a large longitudinal national sample and also shown to be stable (91%) over one year. The Mild Subtype (N = 308, 29%) described children who scored low on all sensory dimensional patterns, while those in the Extreme-Mixed Subtype (N = 182, 17%) showed a profile with high scores in all four dimensional sensory patterns. The remaining two subtypes showed a split in their factor scores. The Sensitive-Distressed Subtype (N = 291, 28%) scored close to the mean on all patterns, with lower factor scores on HYPO and SIRS, and higher scores on HYPER and EP. The Attenuated-Preoccupied Subtype (N = 179, 17%) had the opposite pattern; this subtype showed lower scores on HYPER and EP, and higher scores on HYPO and SIRS.

Citations:  Ausderau, K. K., Furlong, M., Sideris, J., Bulluck, J., Little, L. M., Watson, L. R., … & Baranek, G. T. (2014). Sensory subtypes in children with autism spectrum disorder: latent profile transition analysis using a national survey of sensory features. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 55(8), 935-944.

Abstract: Sensory features are highly prevalent and heterogeneous among children with ASD. There is a need to identify homogenous groups of children with ASD based on sensory features (i.e. sensory subtypes) to inform research and treatment. Methods: Sensory subtypes and their stability over one year were identified through latent profile transition analysis (LPTA) among a national sample of children with ASD. Data were collected from caregivers of children with ASD ages two to12 years at two time points (Time 1 N = 1294; Time 2 N = 884). Results: Four sensory subtypes (Mild; Sensitive-Distressed; Attenuated-Preoccupied; Extreme-Mixed) were identified, which were supported by fit indices from the LPTA as well as current theoretical models that inform clinical practice. The Mild and Extreme-Mixed subtypes reflected quantitatively different sensory profiles, while the Sensitive-Distressed and Attenuated-Preoccupied subtypes reflected qualitatively different profiles. Further, subtypes reflected differential child (i.e. gender, developmental age, chronological age, autism severity) and family (i.e. income, mother’s education) characteristics. Ninety-one percent of participants remained stable in their subtypes over one year. Conclusions: Characterizing the nature of homogenous sensory subtypes may facilitate assessment and intervention, as well as potentially inform biological mechanisms.

About the Lab:  Dr. Ausderau’s research focuses on families and children with ASD. She studies daily occupations, specifically eating and mealtimes, to elucidate the impact on the child’s health, family wellness, and overall daily participation. In addition, she studies sensory features in children with autism spectrum disorder, including their development, characterization, and impact on daily participation. With better characterization of feeding and sensory behaviors and understanding their influence on daily participation, Ausderau hopes to be able to develop more effective assessment tools, targeted treatment strategies, and improved outcomes for children and families.

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