Low Threshold

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What the score means: When a child has scores out of the typical range for BOTH Sensory Sensitivity and Sensation Avoiding, then it is appropriate to think about the child’s Low Threshold responses. For families, it is easier to understand the range of responses that might occur within a Low Threshold response pattern, i.e., sometimes being distractible and bothered (due to Sensory Sensitivity) and sometimes withdrawing because of being overwhelmed (due to Sensation Avoiding), rather than trying to consider these as discreet responses.

MyaGrace’s Low Threshold score is in the ‘probably more than others’ category. For the Low Threshold score, this means that she responds ‘seldom’ to ‘occasionally’ to stimuli; children her age respond less often than this, with ‘seldom’ to ‘never’ responses falling into the typical range. Since all the cut scores on the Infant/ Toddler Sensory Profile are based on the normal bell curve, her ‘probably more than others’ score means that MyaGrace responds more than about 84% of her peers [i.e., those in the ‘typical’ (68%), and both ‘less than others’ (16%) categories], about the same as 14% of her peers [i.e., all the children in the ‘probably more than others’ category] and less than 2% of her peers [i.e., the children in the ‘definitely more than others’ category].

How does this score fit into MyaGrace’s story: Since MyaGrace lived in an orphanage prior to her adoption, it is possible that her ‘probably more than others’ responses are related to lack of early experiences. Perhaps there were fewer opportunities to experiment with sensations in everyday life, and she needs to have more opportunities for exploration now. Her high level of activity, need to be the center of attention and the therapist’s observation that she notices a lot are all consistent with Low Threshold responses. We will need to incorporate a wide range of experiences into our intervention planning, while being careful to provide organized sensory input so we don’t overwhelm MyaGrace. We will also need to arm her day care provider and parents with information so they can anticipate behaviors that might indicate she is getting overwhelmed, and provide them with alternatives so that MyaGrace can continue to participate, and not withdraw or become irritable. We will need to watch this area to see if she adapts to our strategies over the next few months to see whether this sensory processing issue becomes more manageable.