Background: Atypical reactions to sensory stimuli show heritability in the general population and are a known risk factor for affective disorders. As sensory problems are highly prevalent in individuals with ASD and their siblings, and the occurrence of affective disorders is elevated in parents of children with ASD, investigating sensory symptoms in parents is important both from clinical and theoretical standpoints.Fifty mothers of children and adolescents with ASD completed the Adolescent and Adult Sensory Profile (AASP). The AASP is a norm-referenced questionnaire that provides scores for four types of responses to sensory stimuli (sensory quadrants): hypo-sensitivity, hyper-sensitivity, sensation seeking, and sensory avoiding.
Findings: Mothers' scores were compared with AASP norms. Ninety eight percent of mothers had sensory scores at least one standard deviation (SD) above the normative mean and 44% were two or more SDs above the mean for at least one sensory quadrant.
Conclusions: This study provides the first evidence for sensory atypicality in parents of children with ASD. Further research is needed to elucidate the contribution of genetic and environmental influences on the expression of sensory problems in ASD.