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Relationships between atypical sensory processing patterns, maladaptive behavior and maternal stress in Spanish children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

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Background - This study investigated sensory processing in a sample of Spanish children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Specifically, the study aimed to explore (1)the prevalence and distribution of atypical sensory processing patterns, (2)the relationship between adaptive and maladaptive behaviour with atypical sensory processing and (3) the possible relationship between sensory subtype and maternal stress.

Methods - The shortsensory profile 2 (Dunn 2014) and the vineland adaptive behavior scale(Sparrow et al.1984) were administered to examine the sensoryprocessing difficulties and maladaptive behaviours of 45 children with ASD aged3 to 14; their mothers also completed the parenting stress index-short form(Abidin 1995).

Results - Atypicalsensory features were found in 86.7% of the children; avoider and sensor beingthe two most common patterns. No significant relationship was found betweenatypical sensory processing and adaptive behaviour. However, the analysisshowed a strong relationship between sensory processing and maladaptivebehaviour. Both maladaptive behaviour and sensory processing difficultiescorrelated significantly with maternal stress although maternal stress waspredicted only by the sensory variable, and in particular by the avoider pattern.

Conclusions - Thefindings suggest that sensory features in ASD may be driving the highprevalence of parental stress in carers. They also suggest that the effect onparental stress that has been attributed traditionally to maladaptivebehaviours may be driven by sensory difficulties. The implications of these findingsare discussed in relation to the development of interventions and the need toexplore contextual and cultural variables as possible sources of variability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1140-1150
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Issue number12
Early online date20 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • Relationships between atypical sensory processing patterns

    Rights statement: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Nieto, C., López, B., and Gandía, H. (2017) Relationships between atypical sensory processing patterns, maladaptive behaviour and maternal stress in Spanish children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 61: 1140–1150. doi: 10.1111/jir.12435, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 385 KB, PDF document

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