International Autism Institute at the KSPU, Russia 100, Marx Street, Krasnoyarsk, Russia, 660049
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Unusual responses to sensory stimuli were noticed from the very beginning of the official history of autism, and the pioneering research started in the 1960s; since then for many decades, sensory hypotheses were not considered important because there were no empirical evidence for this assumption. At present, however, we witness an explosion of interest in sensory perceptual issues, and the sensory perceptual theory of autism is steadily taking shape, incorporating findings from other related fields and producing a framework for studying sensory differences in autism and their impact not only on behaviours but also on language, cognition and social impairments of individuals with autism spectrum disorder.
As a review of all the available literature is beyond the scope of this paper, only a selection of research studies relevant to some methodological and conceptual problems of sensory perception in autism is included. This review challenges the conventional interpretation that gives primacy to social communication problems. The recognition of sensory perceptual differences in autism can assist in improving diagnostic instruments and provide information about appropriate support for each individual.
Current research has aimed to explain sensory perceptual processes and their mechanisms, but there is no real understanding regarding sensory processing. We call on more research to be done on sensory processing in autism to improve our understanding and to actually be able to help individuals with autism correctly.