Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 98–112 | Cite as

Autism Traits, Sensory Over-Responsivity, Anxiety, and Stress: A Test of Explanatory Models

  • Georgina A. Amos
  • Graeme Byrne
  • Philippe A. ChouinardEmail author
  • Timothy Godber
Original Paper


The relationship between autistic traits, stress, and anxiety experienced by the general population was investigated using an adult sample that evaluated the suitability of three theoretical models proposed by Green and Ben-Sasson. Participants completed online questionnaires that were analysed using structural equation modelling and partial correlation analyses. Of the models tested, the model that proposed SOR and stress as mediators of the relationship between autistic traits and anxiety was able to explain the variance in the data better than the other models. Based on these findings, we suggest that sensory neutral environments should be considered for the prevention and management of anxiety and stress symptoms for people in the general population with higher levels of autistic traits.


Broad Autism Phenotype Questionnaire BAPQ Sensory over-responsivity Anxiety Stress Structural equation modelling DASS-21 



This work was supported by awards from La Trobe University’s Understanding Disease Research Focus Area to the corresponding author. The authors would also like to thank Elizabeth Sullivan, Nikita Kettlewell, and Jenna Baker in assisting us with data collection.

Author Contributions

GAA and TG conceived and designed the experiments, and contributed to the data collection. GAA, GB, PAC, and TG contributed to the statistical analyses and the preparation of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare 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.

Supplementary material

10803_2018_3695_MOESM1_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 14 KB)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychology and Public HealthLa Trobe UniversityBendigoAustralia
  2. 2.School of Engineering and Mathematical SciencesLa Trobe UniversityBendigoAustralia

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