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Anxiety and Sensory Over-Responsivity in Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Bidirectional Effects Across Time

Abstract

This report focuses on the emergence of and bidirectional effects between anxiety and sensory over-responsivity (SOR) in toddlers with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Participants were 149 toddlers with ASD and their mothers, assessed at 2 annual time points. A cross-lag analysis showed that anxiety symptoms increased over time while SOR remained relatively stable. SOR positively predicted changes in anxiety over and above child age, autism symptom severity, NVDQ, and maternal anxiety, but anxiety did not predict changes in SOR. Results suggest that SOR emerges earlier than anxiety, and predicts later development of anxiety.

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Acknowledgments

This research was conducted as part of the Studies to Advance Autism Research and Treatment (STAART) center at Boston University. Funding was provided by National Institute of Mental Health grant U54 MH 66398 (Helen Tager-Flusberg, Center Principal Investigator, Alice S. Carter, Project Principal Investigator) as well as grants from the National Alliance for Autism Research (Alice S. Carter, Principal Investigator) and the Boston University General Clinical Research Center. We are grateful to the families of the children in this study, whose participation in our project inspires this work and makes it possible.

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Correspondence to Alice S. Carter.

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Green, S.A., Ben-Sasson, A., Soto, T.W. et al. Anxiety and Sensory Over-Responsivity in Toddlers with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Bidirectional Effects Across Time. J Autism Dev Disord 42, 1112–1119 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-011-1361-3

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Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Anxiety
  • Sensory over-responsivity