The Impact of ADHD Symptoms and Age on Sensory Features in Autism

Date of Award

Spring 5-22-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Natalie Russo


ADHD, Autism, Sensitivity, Sensory

Subject Categories

Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) exhibit differences in sensory processing patterns compared to typically developing peers. Differences in sensory processing patterns have also been reported in children with Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Given the substantial overlap between features of ASD and ADHD, the purpose of the current study was to examine the extent to which ADHD symptoms and age impact sensory processing patterns associated with ASD traits in a sample of children with ASD aged 6-17 years. Extant data was used that included participants’ scores on various caregiver questionnaires. Sensory features were assessed using the Sensory Profile series developed by Dunn (1999; 2006); ADHD symptoms were measured using Hyperactivity and Attention Problems T-scores on the Behavior Assessment System for Children, Second Edition (BASC-2; Reynolds & Kamphaus, 2004); and ASD traits were measured using scores on the Autism Spectrum Quotient (Auyeung et al., 2008; Baron-Cohen et al., 2001; Baron-Cohen et al., 2006). Findings reveal that the measure of sensitivity significantly predicted ASD traits after controlling for age and ADHD symptoms. These findings suggest that a focus on sensitivity may be useful in further developing our understanding of sensory features in Autism and may provide information that could be useful for earlier identification and individualized support for individuals with Autism.


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