Sensory modulation dysfunction in children with attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder


* Correspondence to second author at University of Colorado Health Sciences Center Research Office, 1901 W. Littleton Boulevard, Littleton, CO 80120, USA. E-mail:


This study investigates the presence of sensory modulation dysfunction (SMD) among children with attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Twenty-six children with ADHD (mean age 8.3 years, 18 males, 8 females), and 30 typically developing children (mean age 8.2 years, 21 males, 9 females) were tested using a laboratory procedure that gauges responses to repeated sensory stimulation by measuring electrodermal reactivity (EDR). Parental report measures of limitations in sensory, emotional, and attentional dimensions were administered using the Short Sensory Profile, the Leiter International Performance Scale-Revised, Parent Rating subscales, and the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Compared to the typical sample, the children with ADHD displayed greater abnormalities in sensory modulation on both physiological and parent-report measures. The children with ADHD also displayed more variability in responses. Within the group with ADHD, levels of SMD were highly correlated with measures of psychopathology on the CBCL. Implications of findings relate to the importance of considering sensory processing abilities in a subgroup of children with ADHD.