Suppose a toddler becomes distressed after hearing a loud noise or when getting messy; are these indicators of sensory over-responsiveness or indicators of anxiety? There is little evidence regarding the distinction between sensory over-responsivity and anxiety disorders in toddlers. This construct validity study examined differences between occupational therapists' and psychologists' judgments of behaviors as representing sensory processing disorders (SPD) versus anxiety disorders, Twenty-four occupational therapists and 25 psychologists completed a mailed survey, rating items from sensory and anxiety scales as representing sensory and/or anxiety disorders in toddlers, and analyzing cases of toddlers with these disorders. Occupational therapists were more likely to rate items as representing SPD than psychologists, and occupational therapists were more certain of the distinction of the sensory scales from anxiety. For the case designed to present a general anxiety disorder and the one designed to present sensory over-responsivity, more occupational therapists diagnosed as sensory over-responsive, while more psychologists diagnosed with a general anxiety disorder. The overlap in judgments of sensory over-responsivity and anxiety supports the notion that these constructs in part reflect different professionals' perspectives upon behaviors as well as the difficulty in distinguishing these constructs in toddlers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health