Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 48, Issue 11, pp 3958–3964 | Cite as

Brief Report: The Impact of Sensory Hypersensitivity and Intolerance of Uncertainty on Anxiety in Williams Syndrome

  • Mirko Uljarević
  • Izelle Labuschagne
  • Rebecca Bobin
  • Anna Atkinson
  • Darren R. Hocking
Brief Report


This study explored the interrelationship between intolerance of uncertainty, sensory hyper-sensitivity and anxiety in Williams syndrome (WS). Thirty-two parents or guardians of individuals with WS (Mage = 24.76 years, SD = 7.55) were included. Associations between anxiety, intolerance of uncertainty, sensory hyper-sensitivity, and ASD symptoms were assessed. Linear regression analysis revealed that intolerance of uncertainty and sensory hyper-sensitivity were unique independent predictors of anxiety, while social communication score was not. There was evidence of a mediating effect of sensory hyper-sensitivity on the relationship between intolerance of uncertainty and anxiety. These findings bear strong resemblance to the pattern seen in ASD and emphasize the need for development of anxiety interventions that attempt to reduce negative beliefs about unpredictable situations in WS.


Williams syndrome Anxiety Autism spectrum disorder Intolerance of uncertainty Sensory hyper-sensitivity 



We would like to acknowledge the support of the parents and families from the Williams Syndrome Family Support Group (Victoria), Williams Syndrome Association Australia, and the Williams Syndrome Association (USA). We would also like to acknowledge the valuable contribution of Ms Sophie Mildren to collection of some of the preliminary data. Darren R. Hocking was supported by an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Grant (DE160100042).

Author Contributions

MU contributed to study design, performed the statistical analysis, and drafted the manuscript. IL provided intellectual contribution to design and feedback on the manuscript. RB participated in the design and coordination and intellectual feedback. AA participated in coordination and collection of the data, and intellectual feedback. DH conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, collected the data and co-wrote the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stanford Autism Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, School of MedicineStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.School of PsychologyAustralian Catholic UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Developmental Neuromotor & Cognition Lab, School of Psychology and Public HealthLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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