Emotional Dysfunction and Interoceptive Challenges in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

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Behavioral Sciences
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People with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) frequently show impaired sensory processing in different senses, including the interoceptive system. Recent findings suggest that interoception is a fundamental component of emotional experience and that impaired interoception is associated with alexithymia. This study aims to explore the association and interrelation between interoceptive confusion, alexithymia, and the capacity for emotional regulation among a sample of 33 adults with ASD compared to a control group of 35 adults with neurotypical development and its mutual impact. The participants answered a series of questionnaires addressing these three variables. The results showed (1) significant differences between the groups in all dimensions, with dysfunctional emotional regulation, impaired interoception, and alexithymia in the ASD group, (2) significant correlations between interoceptive confusion, emotional clarity, and alexithymia in the ASD group but only positive correlations between interoceptive confusion and alexithymia in the CG, and (3) that emotional clarity, alexithymia, and autism explain 61% of the variance in interoceptive confusion. These results are in line with previous studies and suggest that training interoceptive ability may enhance emotional clarity and reduce alexithymia among those diagnosed with ASD, with significant implications in the planning of treatment.

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Interoception, Alexithymia, Emotional regulation, Autism spectrum disorder