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The Dutch Sensory Perception Quotient-Short in adults with and without autism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Ricarda F. Weiland, Tinca J.C. Polderman, Rosa A. Hoekstra, Dirk J.A. Smit, Sander Begeer

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2071-2080
Number of pages10
Issue number8
Accepted/In press1 Jan 2020
Published1 Nov 2020

King's Authors


Sensory symptoms were recently added to the diagnostic criteria of autism spectrum disorder and may be a mechanism underlying the broad phenotype of autism spectrum disorder. To measure sensory symptoms based on perceptual rather than affective, regulative, or attention components, the Sensory Perception Quotient (SPQ) measuring five modalities of sensory sensitivity has been developed. In this study, the Dutch translation of the abridged SPQ-Short was investigated in a large sample of adults with (n = 657) and without autism spectrum disorder (n = 585). Its hypothesized factor structure, combining modality specific and one modality-independent factor, was assessed in a hierarchical model. Results show that modality-specific subscales are indeed present in the short version. Furthermore, its reliability is high and comparable to the original English version. The autism spectrum disorder group reported higher sensory sensitivities than the comparison group, and women with autism spectrum disorder reported higher sensitivities compared with men with autism spectrum disorder. The SPQ-Short correlates with all Autism Quotient (AQ)-Short subscales, except for the “imagination” subscale. The SPQ-Short seems suitable to further explore the relationship between basic sensory sensitivities in autism spectrum disorder and their related symptoms such as over- and under-responsivity to sensory stimulation. Lay Abstract: Individuals on the autism spectrum often experience heightened or reduced sensory sensitivities. This feature was recently added to the diagnostic manual for autism (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th ed. (DSM-5)). To measure sensory sensitivities, the Sensory Perception Quotient (SPQ) has been developed. In this study, we tested whether a Dutch translation of the abridged SPQ-Short yields similar results as the original English version. We also tested whether this questionnaire can measure modality specific sensitivities. To this end, 657 adults with autism spectrum disorder and 585 adults without an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis filled out the Dutch SPQ-Short. The Dutch questionnaire data were very similar to the original English version: adults with autism spectrum disorder were more sensitive compared with adults without autism spectrum disorder. Women with autism spectrum disorder are more sensitive compared with men with autism spectrum disorder. Gender did not have an effect in the group without autism spectrum disorder. Individuals reporting higher sensory sensitivities also reported more autistic traits (such as lower social interests, or increased fascination for patterns). Finally, we found that the Dutch SPQ-Short is suited to measure modality-specific sensitivities. We conclude that the Dutch translation is a viable tool to measure sensory sensitivities in adults with and without autism spectrum disorder and can be used to further our understanding of differences in perception in people with or without autism spectrum disorder.

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