Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 1354–1367 | Cite as

Alexithymia in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Its Relationship to Internalising Difficulties, Sensory Modulation and Social Cognition

  • Bosiljka Milosavljevic
  • Virginia Carter Leno
  • Emily Simonoff
  • Gillian Baird
  • Andrew Pickles
  • Catherine R. G. Jones
  • Catherine Erskine
  • Tony Charman
  • Francesca Happé
Original Paper

Abstract

Alexithymia is a personality trait frequently found in adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and has been linked to impairments in emotion recognition and empathy. The presentation of alexithymia within ASD at younger ages remains unexplored, and was examined in the present study. Alexithymia rates were significantly elevated in ASD (55 %; 31/56 scoring above cut-off) versus non-ASD adolescents (16 %; 5/32 scoring above cut-off). Within individuals with ASD, alexithymia was associated with increased self-reported anxiety, parent-reported emotional difficulties, self-reported sensory processing atypicalities, and poorer emotion recognition, but was not associated with theory of mind ability. Overall, our results suggest that alexithymia is highly prevalent, and has selective cognitive correlates in young people with ASD.

Keywords

Alexithymia Autism spectrum disorder Emotion recognition Theory of mind Anxiety Sensory processing 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bosiljka Milosavljevic
    • 1
  • Virginia Carter Leno
    • 2
  • Emily Simonoff
    • 2
  • Gillian Baird
    • 3
  • Andrew Pickles
    • 4
  • Catherine R. G. Jones
    • 5
  • Catherine Erskine
    • 6
  • Tony Charman
    • 1
  • Francesca Happé
    • 7
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and NeuroscienceKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and NeuroscienceKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Newcomen CentreGuy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation TrustLondonUK
  4. 4.Department of Biostatistics, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and NeuroscienceKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  5. 5.School of PsychologyCardiff UniversityCardiffUK
  6. 6.EcorysBirminghamUK
  7. 7.MRC SDGP Research Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and NeuroscienceKing’s College LondonLondonUK

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