Sensory Processing and Anxiety in Preschool Age Children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder

This study is sponsored by the Department of Defense Autism Research Program and a Brain and Behavior Foundation NARSAD Young Investigator Award.

This research study is examining sensory processing and anxiety. Recent research is beginning to provide some clues regarding early risk factors for anxiety in individuals with ASD. Specifically, studies suggest that sensory over-responsivity - a set of symptoms characterized by heightened and unusual reactivity to sensory stimuli that occurs more frequently among children with ASD than typically developing children - is associated with anxiety in young children. The goal of this study is to conduct an in-depth study of the relationship between sensory over-responsivity and anxiety symptoms in preschool age children, using parent report, observation, and brain-based measures (brain waves or EEG). Our goals are to (1) understand the relationship between sensory processing, anxiety symptoms, tummy symptoms, and parental stress using a combination of parent report, observational, and brain based measures, and (2) explore new methods that could potentially improve our ability to assess sensory processing, attention, and anxiety in young children. This information will help us to develop better treatment programs for children with and without autism who have anxiety symptoms.

Please note that enrollment for this study has completed.

If you have questions about this study or other opportunities at the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development, please contact Jessica Washington at 1-888-691-1062 or

Click here for a study brochure.


Inclusion Criteria: Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder or children without autism or developmental delay who do not have a parent or sibling with autism. Exclusion Criteria: Children with a seizure or genetic disorder (e.g. Fragile X), vision or hearing problems, a significant motor impairment (e.g. cerebral palsy), chronic or acute medical illness, and children who have had a seizure in the past year, or a history of seizure disorder that is controlled by medications. The study has completed enrollment for children with ASD. Enrollment is in progress for the non-ASD group.
Enrollment status