The health of the caregiver-child relationship is imperative for positive long-term mental health outcomes in children and is dependent on caregivers' understanding of their child's behaviors. Misunderstanding a child's behaviors prevents caregivers from responding to their child in a nurturing manner, which creates disconnection in the caregiver-child relationship. Unfortunately, children with sensory processing sensitivity are particularly likely to experience such misunderstanding in their relationships with caregivers. Sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) is a temperament trait manifesting in stronger neurological and emotional responses to stimuli. To increase understanding of children's needs through proper discovery of SPS, the researcher developed the Highly Sensitive Preschool Scale (HSPS) to identify SPS in preschool-age children. Specifically, the researcher examined: (a) the factor structure of HSPS with a sample of caregivers with neurotypical preschool age children, (b) the internal consistency reliability of the HSPS, (c) the relationship between the HSPS scores and the PAS (measuring anxiety) and ATEC (measuring autism), (d) the relationship between the HSPS scores and reported demographic data, and (e) the test-retest reliability of the HSPS. Data analysis resulted in a four-factor exploratory HSPS model that accounted for 41.45% of the total variance. Factor 1 (Empathy, n = 5) accounted for 17.92% of the variance, Factor 2 (Response to Stimuli, n = 3) 11.85%, Factor 3 (Attention to Detail, n = 3) 6.6%, and Factor 4 (Emotional Response, n = 4) 5.1%. Finally, the researcher discussed implications of the study including (a) clinicians use of the HSPS to assist in differentiating diagnoses; (b) increased caregiver awareness of behaviors related to SPS, strengthening the caregiver-child relationship, and leading to long-term mental health benefits for their child; and (c) the future need for continuation of replication studies to strengthen the HSPS.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Community Innovation and Education
Counselor Education and School Psychology
Education; Counselor Education
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Russell, Bethany, "Highly Sensitive Child Scale for Preschool Age Children: Development, Initial Validation of a New Instrument" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 755.