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04-04-2019 | Original Paper | Uitgave 6/2019 Open Access

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 6/2019

Emotional Arousal During Social Stress in Young Adults With Autism: Insights From Heart Rate, Heart Rate Variability and Self-Report

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders > Uitgave 6/2019
Renee R. Dijkhuis, Tim Ziermans, Sophie van Rijn, Wouter Staal, Hanna Swaab
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10803-019-04000-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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In order to better understand which factors play a role in non-adaptive social behavior in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) we looked into physiological arousal and awareness of one’s own emotions. Heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) were measured during a public speaking task in 51 young adults with ASD and 28 typically developing (TD) controls. The results showed no significant group differences in baseline HR/HRV, HR reactivity (change from baseline to the speaking task) or self-reported emotional awareness. However, adults with ASD showed significantly lower HRV reactivity (p = .023, d = 0.6) compared to TD adults. These results suggest a mismatch between arousal regulation and emotional awareness, which may be related to problems in social adaptation in ASD.

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