Research by Topic: Sensory Issues

A longitudinal study of parent-reported sensory responsiveness in toddlers at-risk for autism

Published June 26, 2019 in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry

BACKGROUND: Atypical sensory responsivity and sensory interests are now included in the DSM 5 diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) under the broad domain of restricted and repetitive behavior (RRB). However, relatively little is known about the emergence of sensory-related features and their relation to conventionally defined RRB in the first years of life. […]

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Podcast: The causes of social communication deficits in ASD

Published February 5, 2018

On this week’s podcast, Dr. Katherine Stavropoulos (ASF Grantee ’14) highlights her research with her UC Riverside colleague Dr. Leslie Carver on brain patterns that may explain the social communication deficits present in ASD. Plus, recent research from the Study to Explore Early Development led by Dr. Eric Rubenstein of UNC presented findings that demonstrated […]

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Loss of mTOR-Dependent Macroautophagy Causes Autistic-like Synaptic Pruning Deficits

Published August 21, 2014 in Neuron

As a babys brain develops, there is an explosion of synapses, the connections that allow neurons to send and receive signals. But during childhood and adolescence, the brain needs to start pruning those synapses, limiting their number so different brain areas can develop specific functions and are not overloaded with stimuli.Now a new study suggests that in children with autism, something in the process goes awry, leaving an oversupply of synapses in at least some parts of the brain.

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Signaling Imbalance Skews Sensory Responses in Autism Mice

Published August 11, 2014 in Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative

Mice modeling autism have trouble integrating different kinds of sensory information such as sight, sound and touch. A study published in Neuron reports that an imbalance between signals that calm neurons and those that excite them leads to these sensory problems.

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Mothers of Children with Autism Share Their Sensory Problems

Published May 2, 2014 in Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative

A small study published 3 April in Molecular Autism found that 98 percent of mothers of children with autism have unusual responses to sensory stimuli, including light, sound and touch. Up to 90 percent of children with autism show sensory problems, fixating on or avoiding certain smells, sounds or textures. As a result, the newest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders lists abnormal sensitivity in one or more of the five senses as a core diagnostic feature of autism. Its unclear whether genetics contributes to these sensory patterns, but a larger study examining the relationship between unusual sensory response, autism traits and additional disorders in family members may clarify the link.

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Synaesthesia is More Common in Autism

Published November 19, 2013 in Molecular Autism

New research out of the University of Cambridge and published in the journal Molecular Autism found that people with autism are more likely to have synaethesia, which involves experiencing a mixing of the senses, such as seeing colors when they hear sounds. Both autism and synaesthesia involve neural over-connectivity, perhaps the reason why synaesthesia is disproportionately common in autism.

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Environmental Enrichment as an Effective Treatment for Autism: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Published May 20, 2013 in Behavioral Neuroscience

Researchers at University of California Irvine conducted a randomized controlled trial of sensorimotor enrichment in young boys with ASD. Behavioral and cognitive improvements in the children who received sensorimotor therapy suggest that it may be a promising treatment for ASD symptoms. The group is now conducting a larger trial that includes girls.

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Anxiety, sensory over-responsivity, and gastrointestinal problems in children with autism spectrum disorders

Published January 1, 2013 in PubMed

Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) experience high rates of anxiety, sensory processing problems, and gastrointestinal (GI) problems; however, the associations among these symptoms in children with ASD have not been previously examined. The current study examined bivariate and multivariate relations among anxiety, sensory over-responsivity, and chronic GI problems in a sample of 2,973 children with ASD enrolled in the Autism Treatment Network (ages 2-17 years, 81.6 % male).

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Physical Aggression in Children and Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Published December 27, 2012 in Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders

The prevalence of physical aggression was 53% across a sample of nearly 1600 children and adolescents with ASD. Girls and boys were equally likely to display aggressive behaviors. The researchers suggest sleep problems, self-injury and sensory problems may increase risk for physical aggression, and argue for better identification and treatment of these conditions.

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