Background: Sensory reactivity is a new criterion for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). However, there is no consensus on how to reliably measure sensory reactivity, particularly in minimally verbal individuals. The current study is an initial validation of the Sensory Assessment for Neurodevelopmental Disorders (SAND), a novel clinician-administered observation and corresponding caregiver interview that captures sensory symptoms based on DSM-5 criteria for ASD. Methods: Eighty children between the ages of 2 and 12 participated in this study; 44 children with ASD and 36 typically developing (TD) children. Sensory reactivity symptoms were measured using the SAND and the already validated Short Sensory Profile (SSP). Initial psychometric properties of the SAND were examined including reliability, validity, sensitivity and specificity. Results: Children with ASD showed significantly more sensory reactivity symptoms compared to TD children across sensory domains (visual, tactile, and auditory) and within sensory subtypes (hyperreactivity, hyporeactivity and seeking). The SAND showed strong internal consistency, inter-rater reliability and test-retest reliability, high sensitivity (95.5%) and specificity (91.7%), and strong convergent validity with the SSP. Significance: The SAND provides a novel method to characterize sensory reactivity symptoms based on DSM-5 criteria for ASD. This is the first known sensory assessment that combines a clinician-administered observation and caregiver interview to optimally capture sensory phenotypes characteristic of individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders. The SAND offers a beneficial new tool for both research and clinical purposes and has the potential to meaningfully enhance gold-standard assessment of ASD. Autism Res 2017, 10: 1133–1140.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1133-1140
Number of pages8
JournalAutism Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017


  • assessment
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • sensory processing
  • sensory reactivity


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