Exploring sensory profiles

Simpson, K., Paynter, J., Ziegenfusz, S., & Westerveld, M. (2020). Sensory Profiles in School-Age Children with Developmental Language Disorder. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 1-10.

Aim of the paper:

Previous research finds children with developmental conditions, such as autism and ADHD, frequently experiences sensory differences. Yet, there is little research on the sensory profile of children with DLD. This paper looks at the sensory profiles of children with DLD, and whether their sensory profiles are related to their language skills.

Sensory profile = response to sensory information (touch, taste, smell, sound, sight, balance and movement)

What they found:


  • Overall, 60% of children with DLD experienced differences in response to sensory information when compared to children without DLD.


  • A majority of children with DLD have normal sensory sensitivity. But more than 50% of children experienced different responses to sensory stimuli in areas such as “auditory filtering”. Auditory filtering includes things like being able to concentrate when there is background noise.


  • On average, the overall score in sensory profile for children with DLD is lower than the normal range, meaning more sensory differences.


  • Sensory profile and language skills were not related.

What does this mean?

The findings of this paper suggest that many children with DLD face challenges in responding to sensory stimuli. This shows that children with DLD may affect multiple areas of development, not just language.

Previous studies suggested that abnormal sensory profile is related to poorer communication, and emotional/behavioural outcomes in autistic children and children with ADHD. Although little research has found similar relationships in children with DLD, identification of their unique sensory profiles may be important when providing tailored support during interventions.

Where can I read this paper?

This paper is not open access so we cannot provide a link at this time.

If you wish to read the full paper, please email E-DLD@bath.ac.uk.