Sensory subtypes in children on the autism spectrum

Children on the autism spectrum experience a significant range of behavioural, communication and sensory characteristics. A major research goal is to better understand this full range of characteristics, to assist with identifying which interventions may be most effective for which children. Sensory profiles including hyper-reactivity, hypo-reactivity and unusual sensory interests are behavioural characteristics of autism that may provide insights into clinically meaningful subtypes. Research identified distinct sensory subtypes relating to behaviours associated with sensory reactivity (intensity of the response to a sensory stimulus) and multisensory integration (combining information from multiple sensory stimuli). The current study provides an important extension of this work by investigating these characteristics in two large Autism CRC datasets (Australian Autism Biobank and Longitudinal Study of Students (LASA)), which will provide key information about the nature of sensory differences in autism across early and middle childhood.

The main objectives for this project are to:

  1.  identify sensory subtypes in children on the autism spectrum aged 2-17 years, using the Short Sensory Profile-2 (SSP-2).
  2. comprehensively evaluate the relationship between sensory subtypes and clinical phenotype including autism characteristics, cognitive level, adaptive behaviour, attention and withdrawal challenges, communication competence and psychiatric co-occurring conditions such as anxiety using the Australian Autism Biobank and LASA datasets.
  3. utilise the results of these analyses to identify homogeneous subgroups and to inform whether interventions for young children on the spectrum based on their sensory profile reduces support needs and optimises outcomes in school participation and independent daily living.
Project code
Project Leader(s)
  • Anne Masi, University of New South Wales
Project status