The Relationship between Children’s Sensory Processing and Executive Functioning: An Explanatory Study

Ted Brown, Emma Swyan, Carissa Lyons, Eli Chu, Julia Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Abstract Objectives: Practitioners work with children presenting with sensory processing difficulties. There is limited evidence about the relationship between children’s sensory processing and their executive functioning. This study investigated the relationship between children’s sensory processing and executive functioning. Methods: Forty parents/guardians of typically developing children (M = 7.42 years [89.05 months; SD = 11.13]; 50% female) from Australia completed the Sensory Processing Measure (SPM) and Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function, Second Edition (BRIEF2). Scores were analysed using Spearman rho correlations with bootstrapping. Results: Some SPM subscales were found to be significantly correlated with the four BRIEF2 composite scales: the Behavior Regulation Index (BRI; rs = .31 - .38, p < .05), Emotion Regulation Index (ERI; rs = .34 - .59, p < .05), Cognitive Regulation Index (CRI; rs = .32 - .45, p < .05) and Global Executive Composite (GEC; rs = .32 - .45; p < .05). The SPM subscales were also found to be predictive of the BRIEF2 composite scales: ERI regression model (Adj R 2 = .27, p < .005), CRI regression model (Adj R 2 = .34, p < .001) and GEC regression model (Adj R 2 = .37, p < .001). Discussion: This study provides preliminary evidence that children’s sensory processing factors impact their executive functioning since they appear to be significantly associated. This information can be used to inform occupational therapists’ goal setting and intervention provision with children and their families.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-145
Number of pages17
JournalKorean Journal of Occupational Therapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2021


  • Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function Second Edition
  • child
  • occupational therapy
  • Sensory processing
  • Sensory Processing Measure
  • Validity
  • Assessment

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