Sensory and Motor Difficulties in Autism Spectrum Conditions


Centre for Psychology, Behaviour and Achievement - Coventry University

Project team

Dr. Sarah Cassidy and Penny Hannant (Centre for Psychology Behaviour and Achievement, Coventry University, UK), Professor Simon Baron-Cohen (Autism Research Centre, University of Cambridge, UK), Dr. Teresa Tavassoli (Seaver Autism Center, Icahn School of Medicine, US).

Project objectives

To explore how sensory and motor skills impact wider social skills in those with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC)

Impact statement

In addition to difficulties in social and communication skills, current diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) include repetitive motor movements and atypical sensitivity to sensory input. Previous research has studied sensory or motor difficulties in ASC separately, and has not yet explored the impact of these on the wider social and emotional difficulties those with ASC experience. For example, sensory and motor difficulties could impact ability to effectively coordinate eye gaze with speech and gesture during communication, or ability to pick out and look quickly to pertinent social cues in a busy fast-paced social environment.  Thus sensory and motor difficulties could under pin some of the social and emotion processing difficulties seen in ASC. We are exploring the relationship between sensory and motor difficulties in people with ASC, and whether these are in turn related to the severity of social and emotional difficulties in ASC. This research will inform effective interventions to improve these skills in children with ASC.

 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Logo
University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2023