Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Living Edition
| Editors: Fred R. Volkmar

Touch Processing and Social Behavior in ASD

  • Helga O. MiguelEmail author
  • Emma Condy
  • Audrey Thurm
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6435-8_102398-1


Deficits in sensory functioning were recently recognized under the repetitive behavior criteria for the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (APA 2013). It is estimated that atypical responses to sensory stimuli are present in 90% of individuals diagnosed with ASD (Tavassoli et al. 2014; Tomchek and Dunn 2007), with the sense of touch described by parents as one of the most impaired (Hilton et al. 2010; Lane et al. 2010).

Touch is a sensory modality used in the context of affiliative behaviors and social interaction, and some have proposed that it precedes more complex forms of social-emotional skill development, such as language or emotional expressiveness (Hertenstein et al. 2006). Touch is important to human social bonding and affect communication because it is a primary channel of communication in the first year of life (Gallace and Spence 2010; Morrison et al. 2010). ASD is a disorder characterized by a lack of social-emotional reciprocity, and a relationship...

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This research was supported (in part) by the Intramural Research Program of the NIMH (1ZICMH00296) and by the Intramural Research Program of NICHD.

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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the U.S.; foreign copyright protection may apply 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section on Analytical and Functional BiophotonicsNational Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA
  2. 2.Neurodevelopmental and Behavioral Phenotyping Service, Intramural Research ProgramNational Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA