Queensland's most experienced provider of specialised education and therapy services for individuals with ASD.

Helping people on the autism spectrum describe their everyday sensory experiences in their own words

This is an Autism Queensland research project, which is being led by our Key Researcher, Dr Jill Ashburner.

What is the study about?
Some people on the spectrum respond in unusual ways to sound, sight, touch, smell, taste, or movement sensations. Their sensory experiences are usually assessed by others who observe the way that they respond to sensations and “guess” how the person is feeling. It can be difficult for young people on the spectrum to explain to others about everyday sensations that they don’t like, or that they enjoy in life. At Autism Queensland, we have developed a new sensory assessment using pictures to help people on the spectrum explain their sensory experiences in their own words.

Who can participate?
We are seeking people who have been diagnosed with autism and who experience sensory challenges to trial this new sensory assessment. We are seeking:

  • young people on the spectrum aged 8-10 years and their family members;
  • young people on the spectrum aged 11-17 years and their family members; and
  • adults on the spectrum aged 18+ years and their family members if help is needed to complete the study materials.

To complete the tasks involved in the study, participants should be able to:

  • express their basic needs and wants;
  • identify their likes and dislikes;
  • retell an event – think back to different sensory experiences;
  • reflect on their feelings – explain how sensations make them feel; and
  • concentrate and attend to questions in a booklet for 5-10 minutes at a time.

Please read the relevant Participant Information Sheet below before deciding to participate. If you are a family member, please use the relevant Participant Information Sheet to discuss the study with your son/daughter on the spectrum.

Participant Information Sheets:

What are the benefits?
This study will help us to (a) determine the potential benefits and limitations of using the sensory assessment to help people on the spectrum describe the way they experience sensations, and (b) help us understand the sensory experiences of people on the spectrum from their point of view.

As a token of our gratitude for your assistance with this study, we will provide you with an individualised report about your/your child’s sensory experiences and some strategies that can be useful in everyday life. The report could be provided to service providers, school staff, training course coordinators, and/or an employer, to assist them with working with you/your child.

How do I start participating?
Make sure you have read and understood the Participant Information Sheet before agreeing to participate. If you are a family member of a young person on the spectrum, please ensure they understand what the study is about.

If you are a family member (e.g., parent/caregiver) of a young person on the spectrum aged 8-17 years and you and your child are both happy to participate, please click here to complete the initial online consent form and background information survey. We will then send you the materials to complete the study in the post.

If you are an adult on the spectrum aged 18+ years and you are happy to participate, please click here to complete the initial online consent form and background information survey. We will then send you the materials to complete the study in the post.


Thank you for your interest in this research project. We look forward to working with you to contribute to a better understanding of young people’s sensory experiences.

Have any questions or need assistance with this study? Feel free to get in touch.
Dr Jill Ashburner, Manager Research and Development
E. jill.ashburner@autismqld.com.au
P. 07 3273 0075

Natasha Bobir, Research Assistant
E. natasha.bobir@autismqld.com.au
P. 07 3273 0007