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Brief Report: The Impact of Sensory Hypersensitivity and Intolerance of Uncertainty on Anxiety in Williams Syndrome

Abstract

This study explored the interrelationship between intolerance of uncertainty, sensory hyper-sensitivity and anxiety in Williams syndrome (WS). Thirty-two parents or guardians of individuals with WS (Mage = 24.76 years, SD = 7.55) were included. Associations between anxiety, intolerance of uncertainty, sensory hyper-sensitivity, and ASD symptoms were assessed. Linear regression analysis revealed that intolerance of uncertainty and sensory hyper-sensitivity were unique independent predictors of anxiety, while social communication score was not. There was evidence of a mediating effect of sensory hyper-sensitivity on the relationship between intolerance of uncertainty and anxiety. These findings bear strong resemblance to the pattern seen in ASD and emphasize the need for development of anxiety interventions that attempt to reduce negative beliefs about unpredictable situations in WS.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to acknowledge the support of the parents and families from the Williams Syndrome Family Support Group (Victoria), Williams Syndrome Association Australia, and the Williams Syndrome Association (USA). We would also like to acknowledge the valuable contribution of Ms Sophie Mildren to collection of some of the preliminary data. Darren R. Hocking was supported by an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Grant (DE160100042).

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Contributions

MU contributed to study design, performed the statistical analysis, and drafted the manuscript. IL provided intellectual contribution to design and feedback on the manuscript. RB participated in the design and coordination and intellectual feedback. AA participated in coordination and collection of the data, and intellectual feedback. DH conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, collected the data and co-wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Darren R. Hocking.

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Uljarević, M., Labuschagne, I., Bobin, R. et al. Brief Report: The Impact of Sensory Hypersensitivity and Intolerance of Uncertainty on Anxiety in Williams Syndrome. J Autism Dev Disord 48, 3958–3964 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-018-3631-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-018-3631-9

Keywords

  • Williams syndrome
  • Anxiety
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Intolerance of uncertainty
  • Sensory hyper-sensitivity