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01-04-2013 | Original Paper | Uitgave 4/2013

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 4/2013

Fascination and Isolation: A Grounded Theory Exploration of Unusual Sensory Experiences in Adults with Asperger Syndrome

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders > Uitgave 4/2013
Richard S. Smith, Jonathan Sharp
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Dr. Richard S. Smith formerly worked at Oxford Institute of Clinical Psychology, University of Oxford and Oxford Health Foundation Trust, Oxford, England, where the research was conducted.


Unusual sensory experiences are commonly seen in people with Asperger syndrome (AS). They correlate with functional impairments and cause distress. The current study investigates how these experiences have affected nine adults with AS’s lives, as well as the coping strategies utilised. Semi-structured interviews were conducted using Instant Messaging software. Data were analysed using Grounded Theory. A number of inter-related categories and focused codes were identified. The categories included heightened senses, sensory stress, the stress avalanche, moderating factors, coping strategies, other people, self-acceptance, fascination, and isolation. A model was constructed as to how these categories and codes interact. How these findings link with previous research into autism spectrum disorders is discussed. Implications for services and future research are also made.

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