Disability Research NetworkDisability Research Network

Sensory differences in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Many children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) experience sensory differences. These differences may present as hyper-reactivity (over-reaction to sensation), hypo-reactivity (under-reaction to sensation) and/or unusual sensory interests (seeking or craving sensation). 

Many individuals affected by ASD report that sensory differences prevent them from participating fully in daily life. At the moment, researchers do not understand what causes sensory differences in ASD and are unsure about the best way to help.

Our research group, the SenSA lab, is dedicated to understanding how sensory differences impact on the day-to-day lives of children with ASD and their carers. We were the first researchers in the world to identify distinct sensory subtypes in ASD. 

Our studies suggest that children with ASD experience difficulties with sensory reactivity (over- or under-reaction) and/or multisensory integration (combining the senses together). 

We have developed a method to identify the specific sensory subtype of children with ASD. From here, we want to: 

  1. discover the neural (brain) basis for the sensory subtypes, 
  2. identify sensory signs in babies that may help us predict ASD earlier, and 
  3. use sensory subtypes to plan customized treatment for children with ASD.

For more information visit facebook.com/SenSAlab.