Exploratory Factor Analysis and Test-Retest Reliability of the Sensory Environment and Participation Questionnaire (SEP-Q)

Friday, May 12, 2017: 5:00 PM-6:30 PM
Golden Gate Ballroom (Marriott Marquis Hotel)
B. Pfeiffer, Temple University, Hatfield, PA
Background:  The ability to participate in common daily activities can have a profound impact on the development of young children. One factor identified to impact daily activity for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) is the fit between individual sensory processing patterns and the sensory environment (Reynolds, Bendixon, Lawrence, & Lane, 2011). It is estimated that 70-96% of all children with ASD have unusual responses to sensory stimuli in the environment (Ben-Sasson et al., 2009). Unfortunately, there are few instruments that measure the environmental impact on participation in natural environments for children with ASD and even less that measure the sensory characteristics of the environment. The SEP-Q was developed to fill this need, although requires further examination to determine underlying structures of the variable, internal consistency, and test re-test reliability prior to clinical use.

Objectives:  The objectives of this study was to examine internal consistency, factor structure, and test-retest reliability of the Sensory Environment and Participation Questionnaire (SEP-Q) in young children with ASD. The SEP-Q measures parents’ perspective of the impact of the sensory environment on participation, as well as parent effort to support participation both in home and community environments.

Methods:  A cross sectional design was used to collect data for psychometric analyses. Participants were 125 parents of children with ASD between the ages of 3 and 5 years old. Recruitment occurred nationally through social media, ASD community/support groups, private preschools, and school districts. Participants completed the SEP-Q, along with the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale (GARS) to confirm diagnosis, and a demographic questionnaire. Participants were emailed a link to collect data through Qualtrics Survey software or were provided with a paper version of the questionnaires based on preference. Cronbach’s alpha was used to calculate internal consistency. Canonical correlations and Intra-Class Correlation (ICC) were used to calculate test re-test reliability. An exploratory factor analysis using principle axis factoring was completed using Stata software.

Results:  The exploratory factor analysis identified the best fit as a two-factor model for both Home and Community scales of the SEP-Q. Internal consistency for both subscales representing the two factors was high. Cronbach’s alpha for the first factor of the Home scale was .87 and .82 for the second factor. Cronbach’s alpha for the first factor of the Community scale was .87 and .91 for the second factor. Test re-test reliability for all subscale factors were in ranges considered good (.82-.99).

Conclusions:  The results of this study identify the underlying factor structure and provide initial reliability for a unique measure to assess the impact of sensory factors within natural environments from the perspective of key stakeholders. The SEP-Q has the potential to support the intervention process within home and community contexts for therapist and families of young children with ASD.