A case-controlled investigation of tactile reactivity in young children with and without global developmental delay

Chantel C. Barney, Raymond Tervo, George L. Wilcox, Frank J. Symons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Assessing tactile function among children with intellectual, motor, and communication impairments remains a clinical challenge. A case control design was used to test whether children with global developmental delays (GDD; n = 20) would be more/less reactive to a modified quantitative sensory test (mQST) compared to controls (n = 20). Reactivity was indexed by blinded behavioral coding across vocal, facial, and gross motor responses during the mQST. On average the children with GDD were significantly more reactive than controls to most tactile sensory modalities including light touch (p =.034), pin prick (p =.008), cool (p =.039), pressure (p =.037), and repeated von Frey (p =.003). The results suggest the mQST approach was feasible and highlights the GDD sample was more reactive than controls to a range of stimuli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-421
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican journal on intellectual and developmental disabilities
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was presented as part of a research symposium titled "Clinical Research Issues in the Study of Pain and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities" at the 48th annual NICHD Gatlinburg Conference on Research and Theory in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and was also presented as a poster at the 15th World Congress on Pain, Buenos Aires, Argentina. This research was supported, in part, by the Gillette Children's Hospital Foundation and NIH Grants HD44763 & HD73126. The authors would like to recognize Breanne Byiers, Adele Dimian, Alyssa Merbler, Kelsey Quest, Lisa Spofford, and Elizabeth Steuber for their contribution to this work. The authors express their sincere appreciation to the participating children and their parents who made this study possible.

Publisher Copyright:


  • Developmental disability
  • Global developmental delay
  • Quantitative sensory testing
  • Tactile reactivity


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