Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health Related Sciences

First Advisor

Stacey E. Reynolds


Sensory Modulation Disorder (SMD) reduces a child’s ability to respond to sensory stimuli in the environment in a manner that corresponds to the nature or intensity of the stimulus; this disorder therefore significantly can impact participation in developmentally appropriate play and functional activities. More studies are needed to enhance research in the field of SMD and aid the general community in understanding the disorder and its causes. The purpose of this study was to characterize the prevalence of SMD among Puerto Rican preschoolers and examine the relationship between specific risk factors (socioeconomic status, pre-natal alcohol exposure, low birth weight, preterm delivery, and lead exposure) and SMD in this population. The sample consisted of 141 caregivers of preschool children; 78 were from Head Start programs and 63 were from private preschools. The Short Sensory Profile was used to determine the presence of SMD. A Demographic and Risk Factors Data Sheet was used to obtain information about the risk factors, except for lead exposure, which was measured using results of blood lead levels tests available in the records of Head Start preschoolers. Prevalence of SMD among the total sample, calculated through descriptive statistics, was 19.9%, which is higher than previously reported estimates of studies with children on the US mainland. According to an Analysis of Variance test, no differences were found in the prevalence of SMD based on parents’ education and/or household income. Diverse multivariate analyses, including structural equation modeling, were used to determine the relevance of risk factors used to explain variance in SMD scores. Due to limitations of the data collected, it was not possible to provide a definite conclusion about the most relevant risk factors identified in this study. In general, when compared to the other risk factors included, findings point to household income and low birth weight as relevant variables to explain scores on the SSP for the total sample. For the Head Start sample, lead exposure and low birth weight, followed by household income, achieved the better relative relevance to explain scores in the SSP (when compared to the other risk factors considered). However, due to the low effect sizes and low percentage of shared variance found among the variables, findings from this study do not support strong associations between risk factors and SMD as suggested in previous literature. More research is required to further understand SMD and the complex interaction among potential risk factors that might be associated with its prevalence.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

January 2012


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