Autistic children demonstrate a constellation of traits with varying degrees of severity in areas including language differences, restrictive and repetitive behaviors, and sensory processing differences. However, the relationship between sensory processing and these other behaviors are not well understood especially their neurobiological underpinnings. Therefore, this research examined behavioral measures of semantic language, sensory traits, and associated brain networks in 20 autistic children (ages 6-11) and 22 typically developing (TD) age matched peers. Mann-Whitney U tests revealed a strong correlation between sensory traits and general composite and semantic language in both groups of participants. Sensory seeking traits were most significantly correlated with overall and semantic language scores in our autistic participants. Resting state functional network connectivity was also examined and correlated with behavioral measures. The autistic participants demonstrated three networks of interest that were correlated with semantic language scores. These networks demonstrated both over and underconnectivity, and the brain regions involved provided functions in multisensory integration, language, somatosensory processing, and prediction (among other functions). These findings point to an association between sensory integration and language, especially semantics in both the neurotypical population and autistic individuals. Furthermore, for the autistic population it presents novel information about brain regions and connectivity patterns that may contribute to the relationships between semantic language and sensory differences in the autism.
College and Department
David O. McKay School of Education; Communication Disorders
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Cooper, Charlene L., "Atypical Sensory Processing and Semantic Language in Autistic Children" (2021). Theses and Dissertations. 9352.
autism, semantic language, sensory processing, resting state fMRI, functional connectivity