Brief Report: Differences in Multisensory Integration Covary with Sensory Responsiveness in Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder

Abstract

Research shows that children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) differ in their behavioral patterns of responding to sensory stimuli (i.e., sensory responsiveness) and in various other aspects of sensory functioning relative to typical peers. This study explored relations between measures of sensory responsiveness and multisensory speech perception and integration in children with and without ASD. Participants were 8–17 year old children, 18 with ASD and 18 matched typically developing controls. Participants completed a psychophysical speech perception task, and parents reported on children’s sensory responsiveness. Psychophysical measures (e.g., audiovisual accuracy, temporal binding window) were associated with patterns of sensory responsiveness (e.g., hyporesponsiveness, sensory seeking). Results indicate that differences in multisensory speech perception and integration covary with atypical patterns of sensory responsiveness.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by NIH U54 HD083211 (PI: Dykens), the Wallace Foundation, the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, a Marino Autism Research Institute Discovery Grant (PI: Mark T. Wallace), a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development T32 HD07226 and Dennis Weatherstone Pre-doctoral Fellowship for Jennifer H. Foss-Feig, a Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance Training Grant for Leslie D. Kwakye, and by CTSA award No. KL2TR000446 for Tiffany G. Woynaroski from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. Ryan A. Stevenson is funded by a Canadian Natural Science and Engineering Research Counsel Discovery Grant (RGPIN-2017-04656), a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Counsel Insight Grant (435-2017-0936), and the University of Western Ontario Faculty Development Research Fund. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.

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TGW, MTW, JHF, and LDK posed the research questions and collected the original data. TGW, JIF, WK, AT, JGC, and PS scored, entered, and organized the data. TGW, JIF, WK, DMS, RAS, and MTW analyzed the data, interpreted the results, and drafted the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Tiffany G. Woynaroski.

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Feldman, J.I., Kuang, W., Conrad, J.G. et al. Brief Report: Differences in Multisensory Integration Covary with Sensory Responsiveness in Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 49, 397–403 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-018-3667-x

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Keywords

  • Autism
  • Sensory
  • Audiovisual
  • Multisensory integration
  • Temporal binding
  • Speech perception