The Sensory Experiences of Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Qualitative Analysis

Ashley E Robertson, David R Simmons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Citations (Scopus)
562 Downloads (Pure)


It has been well established that individuals with autism spectrum disorder report unusual experiences with sensory stimuli compared with typically developing individuals. However, there is a paucity of research exploring the nature of such experiences. A focus group was conducted with six adults with a diagnosis of autism or Asperger syndrome. Data were coded and analysed using an inductive, qualitative thematic analysis. Four main themes encompassing both positive and negative sensory experiences emerged from these data: (a) the importance of particular aspects of stimuli in their perception, (b) the importance of having control over stimuli, (c) how emotions/mental states could impact/be impacted by sensory stimuli, and (d) physical responses to stimuli. These data are discussed alongside extant literature. Limitations, possible implications, and potential directions of future research are also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)569-586
Number of pages18
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • sensory
  • qualitative
  • focus group


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