This is the internet weblog of Bix Frankonis.

On the one hand, I find this study of the sensory features of being autistic interesting; on the other hand, I’m always skeptical of research in which “the results were derived using a single parent-report measure of sensory features” rather than (as the authors themselves note) “multiple measures that provide comprehensive sampling of all key sensory domains and drawing on different measurement formats (e.g. parent-report, self-report, observation)”.

While the causal relationship between sensory features and social-communication challenges in ASD is not established, it may be the case that sensory features may result in the individual withdrawing from social-communicative environments that are over stimulating, thereby further restricting opportunities for social learning. Conversely, the link between restricted and repetitive behaviours, particularly stereotypes, compulsions and rituals/sameness behaviours, and sensory features have been highlighted by several studies [7,8,9, 80], and RRBs may serve as a self-regulatory function in situations of high arousal [81]. There is also increasing evidence on the association between atypical sensory features and anxiety [7, 11], including two sensory-based subtyping studies that have identified that sensory severe subgroups showed more severe anxiety symptoms in both toddlers [17] and older children and adolescents [12]. Although the exact mechanisms underpinning the relationship between anxiety and atypical sensory features remain to be clarified, it has been suggested that due to heightened responses to sensory stimuli, individuals characterised by atypical sensory processing experience their environment as threatening and unpredictable, which in turn leads to increased levels of anxiety [7].