The Role of Attention in Somatosensory Processing: A Multi-trait, Multi-method Analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Sensory processing abnormalities in autism have largely been described by parent report. This study used a multi-method (parent-report and measurement), multi-trait (tactile sensitivity and attention) design to evaluate somatosensory processing in ASD. Results showed multiple significant within-method (e.g., parent report of different traits)/cross-trait (e.g., attention and tactile sensitivity) correlations, suggesting that parent-reported tactile sensory dysfunction and performance-based tactile sensitivity describe different behavioral phenomena. Additionally, both parent-reported tactile functioning and performance-based tactile sensitivity measures were significantly associated with measures of attention. Findings suggest that sensory (tactile) processing abnormalities in ASD are multifaceted, and may partially reflect a more global deficit in behavioral regulation (including attention). Challenges of relying solely on parent-report to describe sensory difficulties faced by children/families with ASD are also highlighted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3232-3241
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016



  • Attention
  • Autism
  • Sensory processing
  • Somatosensory
  • Vibrotactile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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