Modifications to Interoception Sensory Questionnaire Help Individuals with ASD

June 13, 2021

Reduced Number of Questions Resulted in a Better Experience for Test Subjects

The human body has eight different sensory systems: visual, auditory, olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste), tactile (touch), vestibular (sense of head movement in space),   proprioceptive (sensations from muscles and joints), and interoception. We learn about the first five sensory systems in basic science classes. Many people become familiar with the sixth and seventh systems due to an experience with autism or another related disorder. However, the eighth system, interoception, is often unfamiliar to most of us. Interoception refers to sensations related to the physiological/physical condition of the body. Interoception works by   using tiny receptors found throughout the interior of our bodies.  These receptors collect and send information to our brain about our muscles, skin, bones, and internal organs. Our brains interpret these messages. It is through these activities that we are able to feel things like hunger, fullness, itch, pain, body temperature, nausea, need for the bathroom, physical exertion and sexual arousal. Interoception also plays a role in allowing us to feel emotions. But just like the other sensory systems, the interoceptive system can be negatively impacted in individuals with autism. Previous research has demonstrated that those on the spectrum have significantly lower awareness of their interoceptive signals. Interoception alterations have been identified as one of the most neglected research areas in autism. In order for scientists to further explore this issue, the interoception sensory questionnaire (ISQ) for people on the spectrum was developed. A new study recently examined the effectiveness of the original ISQ which included 20 self-reported measures of interoception and found that a revised five-response choice (ISQ-8) was a much better fit for people with autism. Even though ISQ-8 has only a fraction of the questions of the original ISQ, it was shown to maintain high internal reliability. The study’s authors believe that the ISQ-8 shows great promise as a dependable and valid measure of interoception in adolescents and adults with autism. However, they suggest that additional work is needed to examine its psychometrics in this population. Either way, further research for this much overlooked issue in autism is desperately needed.

Original Study

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