Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 5, pp 1590–1601 | Cite as

Sensory Symptoms and Processing of Nonverbal Auditory and Visual Stimuli in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Claire R. Stewart
  • Sandra S. Sanchez
  • Emily L. Grenesko
  • Christine M. Brown
  • Colleen P. Chen
  • Brandon Keehn
  • Francisco Velasquez
  • Alan J. Lincoln
  • Ralph-Axel Müller
Perception In Autism


Atypical sensory responses are common in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). While evidence suggests impaired auditory–visual integration for verbal information, findings for nonverbal stimuli are inconsistent. We tested for sensory symptoms in children with ASD (using the Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile) and examined unisensory and bisensory processing with a nonverbal auditory–visual paradigm, for which neurotypical adults show bisensory facilitation. ASD participants reported more atypical sensory symptoms overall, most prominently in the auditory modality. On the experimental task, reduced response times for bisensory compared to unisensory trials were seen in both ASD and control groups, but neither group showed significant race model violation (evidence of intermodal integration). Findings do not support impaired bisensory processing for simple nonverbal stimuli in high-functioning children with ASD.


Autism Visual Auditory Sensory integration Bisensory facilitation Sensory profile 



This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health R01-DC006155 and R01-MH081023, with additional funding from 1T32 DC007361-03 (BK). Special thanks to the children and families who generously participated, and to Sophie Molholm and John S. Butler for help with implementation of the race model.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claire R. Stewart
    • 1
  • Sandra S. Sanchez
    • 1
  • Emily L. Grenesko
    • 1
  • Christine M. Brown
    • 1
    • 7
  • Colleen P. Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Brandon Keehn
    • 1
    • 6
  • Francisco Velasquez
    • 1
    • 3
  • Alan J. Lincoln
    • 4
  • Ralph-Axel Müller
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Brain Development Imaging Lab, Department of PsychologySan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Computational Science Research CenterSan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.Department of Clinical PsychologyAlliant International UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychologySan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  6. 6.Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  7. 7.Pacific Science and Engineering GroupSan DiegoUSA

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