Touching Relationships: Sensory Processing in Parent-child Interactions

Open Access
Mammen, Micah Ashley
Graduate Program:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
May 22, 2012
Committee Members:
  • Ginger A Moore, Thesis Advisor
  • sensory processing
  • temperament
  • prenatal environment
  • parent-child interaction
Using parent-report measures, prior studies have shown that sensory processing is related to social, emotional, and regulatory development. The current study examined 9-month-old infants’ sensory processing during a parent-child interaction, in relation to prenatal environment and child temperament. Latent Class Analysis yielded four sensory processing classes that were consistent with current models of sensory processing: Typical, Sensory Seeking, Sensory Sensitive, and Sensory Avoiding. Analyses examining class differences on parent-report and observational measures of temperament indicated that measures of sensory processing do not reflect overall reactivity to frustrating situations. Analyses examining class differences on prenatal environment indicated that complications during pregnancy (e.g., infections, weight gain and loss, prenatal care) were predictive of high reactivity to and avoidance of sensory stimulation at 9 months. Implications of findings are discussed, along with directions for future research.