Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Living Edition
| Editors: Fred R. Volkmar

Autonomic Nervous System

  • Jonathan KopelEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6435-8_102058-1



The autonomic nervous system (ANS) coordinates the body’s fight or flight and rest and digest response through the central and peripheral nervous systems (Rees 2014). Specifically, the ANS maintains homeostasis and adapts physiological, psychological, and behavioral responses to external stressors (Klusek et al. 2015; Rees 2014). Dysfunction of the ANS increases the risk of numerous psychological disorders including panic disorder, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and schizophrenia (Klusek et al. 2015). Several studies showed Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) children revealed diminished parasympathetic response, autonomic response, and vagal tone (Benevides and Lane 2013; Järvinen et al. 2015; Klusek et al. 2015). Furthermore, ASD children exhibited a variety or sensory deficits affecting their capacity to feel and integrate emotions (Järvinen et al. 2015; Legiša et al. 2012). In addition,...

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References and Reading

  1. Benevides, T. W., & Lane, S. J. (2013). A review of cardiac autonomic measures: Considerations for examination of physiological response in children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45(2), 560–575.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-013-1971-z.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Järvinen, A., Ng, R., Crivelli, D., Neumann, D., Grichanik, M., Arnold, A. J., … Bellugi, U. (2015). Patterns of sensitivity to emotion in children with Williams syndrome and autism: Relations between autonomic nervous system reactivity and social functioning. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45(8), 2594–2612.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-015-2429-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Klusek, J., Roberts, J. E., & Losh, M. (2015). Cardiac autonomic regulation in autism and fragile X syndrome: A review. Psychological Bulletin, 141(1), 141–175.  https://doi.org/10.1037/a0038237.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Legiša, J., Messinger, D. S., Kermol, E., & Marlier, L. (2012). Emotional responses to odors in children with high-functioning autism: Autonomic arousal, facial behavior and self-report. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 43(4), 869–879.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-012-1629-2.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Rees, C. A. (2014). Lost among the trees? The autonomic nervous system and paediatrics. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 99(6), 552–562.  https://doi.org/10.1136/archdischild-2012-301863.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC)LubbockUSA