Our study revealed that children with sensory processing disorder (SPD) exhibit deficient saccades and pursuits compared with typically developing (TD) children. Optometrists have a key role in caring for patients with SPD. Optometrists are paramount in identifying, coordinating care for, and treating these children.
Children with SPD exhibit poor neurological processes, which can affect oculomotor performance. The study aims are to investigate differences in oculomotor skills using the Northeastern State University College of Optometry (NSUCO) oculomotor testing in children with SPD as compared with TD children, to explore effects of age and sex of children in each group on oculomotor performance, and to compare our results to test normative values for both TD and SPD groups.
One hundred fifty children aged 7 to 11 years were recruited from surrounding community. The Short Sensory Profile (SSP) was used to assign the children into two groups. Of the eligible children recruited, 60 were TD (SSP ≥155) and 68 had SPD (SSP ≤141). Children were excluded if they reported blindness, strabismus, deafness, ocular disease, fractures within 6 months, or physical disabilities. Gait, balance, and visual skills of all children were assessed. Visual skill evaluation included select visual efficiency and visual processing testing. The NSUCO test was included as part of the visual efficiency evaluation.
Results showed that children with SPD demonstrate decreased oculomotor skills on all tests compared with TD children. For the SPD group, boys scored significantly poorer than did girls in head and body movement with saccades and pursuits. Overall, TD group scores confirm the established test norms.
Because of significant differences in oculomotor function in children with SPD and the increasing number of children with neurosensory disorders, optometrists should consider NSUCO testing on all pediatric patients and particularly in children with SPD.