The impact of atypical sensory processing on social impairments in autism spectrum disorder

Academic Article


  • Altered sensory processing has been an important feature of the clinical descriptions of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). There is evidence that sensory dysregulation arises early in the progression of ASD and impacts social functioning. This paper reviews behavioral and neurobiological evidence that describes how sensory deficits across multiple modalities (vision, hearing, touch, olfaction, gustation, and multisensory integration) could impact social functions in ASD. Theoretical models of ASD and their implications for the relationship between sensory and social functioning are discussed. Furthermore, neural differences in anatomy, function, and connectivity of different regions underlying sensory and social processing are also discussed. We conclude that there are multiple mechanisms through which early sensory dysregulation in ASD could cascade into social deficits across development. Future research is needed to clarify these mechanisms, and specific focus should be given to distinguish between deficits in primary sensory processing and altered top-down attentional and cognitive processes.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Thye MD; Bednarz HM; Herringshaw AJ; Sartin EB; Kana RK
  • Start Page

  • 151
  • End Page

  • 167
  • Volume

  • 29