Brief Report: Sensory Features Associated with Autism After Controlling for ADHD Symptoms

Ellen C. Masters, Kevin M. Antshel, Wendy R. Kates, Natalie Russo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Sensory processing differences are reported both in children with ADHD and in children with autism. Given the substantial overlap between autism and ADHD, the current study examined which sensory features were uniquely predictive of autistic traits after controlling for ADHD symptoms, age, IQ, and sex in a sample of children and adolescents with autism aged 6–17 years. Methods: The sample included 61 children and adolescents with autism. The Sensory Profile was used to examine Dunn’s quadrant model (seeking, sensitivity, avoiding, registration), ADHD symptoms were measured using hyperactivity and attention problems BASC-2 T-scores, and autistic traits were measured using the AQ. Results: After controlling for age, IQ, sex, and ADHD symptoms, Dunn’s sensitivity quadrant predicted autistic traits. Conclusions: Findings provide insight into the phenotype of autism and ADHD. Sensory sensitivity may be unique to autism over and above elevated ADHD symptoms that are commonly seen in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • ADHD
  • Autism
  • Sensitivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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