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

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgments

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.

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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.

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Correspondence to Philippe A. Chouinard.

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Amos, G.A., Byrne, G., Chouinard, P.A. et al. Autism Traits, Sensory Over-Responsivity, Anxiety, and Stress: A Test of Explanatory Models. J Autism Dev Disord 49, 98–112 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-018-3695-6

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Keywords

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