Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 557–567 | Cite as

Parent-Offspring Transmission of Internalizing and Sensory over-Responsivity Symptoms in Adolescence

  • Carol A. Van Hulle
  • Kathryn Lemery-Chalfant
  • H. Hill Goldsmith


Reactions to sensory experiences are an overlooked correlate of affective regulation, despite the importance of bodily states on psychological processes. Children who display sensory over-responsivity (i.e., adverse reactions to typical sensations) are at greater risk for developing affective disorders. We extended this literature to adolescents and their middle-aged parents. Participants in a birth record-based study of families of adolescent twins (N = 506 families; 1012 adolescents; 53% female) completed a subset of items from the Adult Sensory Profile. We derived adolescent self-reported internalizing disorder symptoms and parent affective diagnoses from structured diagnostic interviews. Structural equation models tested the relationship between parent sensory over-responsivity symptoms and affective diagnoses and their adolescent offspring’s sensory over-responsivity and internalizing symptoms. Adolescent sensory over-responsivity symptoms were correlated with internalizing disorder symptoms. Parents with a diagnosis of anxiety or depression (mothers only) reported more frequent SOR symptoms than parents without a diagnosis. Parent depression was significantly related to adolescent sensory over-responsivity symptoms, over and above parent sensory over-responsivity symptoms (β = 0.26, p < 0.001 for mothers; β = 0.13, p = 0.004 for fathers). Father alcohol abuse/dependency also predicted offspring sensory over-responsivity symptoms. Offspring of parents with affective disorders were at additional risk for sensory dysregulation via parents’ influence on offspring internalizing problems.


Adolescent Parents Anxiety Sensory over-responsivity 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carol A. Van Hulle
    • 1
  • Kathryn Lemery-Chalfant
    • 2
  • H. Hill Goldsmith
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Waisman CenterUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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