First-Hand Accounts of Interoceptive Difficulties in Autistic Adults

J Autism Dev Disord. 2021 Oct;51(10):3483-3491. doi: 10.1007/s10803-020-04811-x. Epub 2021 Jan 3.


Interoceptive awareness refers to one's ability to detect, discriminate, and regulate internal bodily and mental processes. Interoceptive challenges in ASD remain under researched and poorly understood. In this study, we analyzed texts of adults who self-identify as autistic describing their interoceptive challenges. Many individuals described limited awareness of hunger, satiation, or thirst, which contributed to eating disordered behavior in some instances. Others described limited awareness or difficulty understanding affective arousal, pain or illness, and difficulty differentiating benign body signals from signals that represent medical concerns. Findings from this study call for increased research attention on this topic, and a need for valid and objective measures for assessing interoception in ASD.

Keywords: ASD; Autism; Content analysis; Interoceptive awareness; Qualitative; Sensibility.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arousal
  • Attention
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / diagnosis
  • Autistic Disorder* / diagnosis
  • Awareness
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Interoception*