The pattern of sensory processing abnormalities in autism

Autism. 2006 Sep;10(5):480-94. doi: 10.1177/1362361306066564.


The study was undertaken to evaluate the nature of sensory dysfunction in persons with autism. The cross-sectional study examined auditory, visual, oral, and touch sensory processing, as measured by the Sensory Profile, in 104 persons with a diagnosis of autism, 3-56 years of age, gender-and age-matched to community controls. Persons with autism had abnormal auditory, visual, touch, and oral sensory processing that was significantly different from controls. This finding was also apparent when the high and low thresholds of these modalities were examined separately. At later ages for the group with autism, lower levels of abnormal sensory processing were found, except for low threshold touch, which did not improve significantly. There was a significant interaction in low threshold auditory and low threshold visual, suggesting that the two groups change differently over time on these variables. These results suggest that sensory abnormalities in autism are global in nature (involving several modalities) but have the potential to improve with age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Autistic Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Escape Reaction
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sensation Disorders / diagnosis
  • Sensation Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Touch