The gut-brain axis establishes the relationships between bacteria, neurotransmitters and psychophysiological responses associated with a neural and behavioral correlate in autism and different mental disorders. In recent years, there has been an increase in studies on the implications of the gut microbiota (IM) in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Studies have indicated that there is a dysbiosis or disturbance of the IM can trigger the onset and development of ASD symptoms. It is considered that there is a frequent comorbidity with gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, pain and sensory reactivity in ASD, and that these are indicators of a possible alteration in the gut-brain axis. In this sense, children with ASD present a hypersensitivity to certain visual, olfactory, tactile stimuli, etc. that makes them more picky with food and have certain repetitive patterns of behavior, as a consequence they present gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation and abdominal pain. Sensory reactivity can influence both feeding and sleep patterns in autism. Currently, there are measurement instruments on sensory reactivity, pain and gastro-intestinal symptoms. However, there are several limitations of these instruments and especially with sensory reactivity in autism because: (1) the items were not developed in collaboration with stakeholders (pediatricians, neuropsychologists, etc.) and (2) the lack of structural validity analyses. Thus, it seems that most of the validation studies do not meet the criteria of sufficient psychometric quality according to the COSMIN guidelines. Furthermore, there is a lack of consensus on terminology (e.g., sensory hyperreactivity, hyperreactivity, SOR, etc.) and components relevant to sensory functioning. In the present symposium we present preliminary psychometric data from new measures of sensory reactivity and pain assessment in the autism population. This is a first step towards obtaining a gut-brain axis index for the ASD population.


University of Alicante. Spain

Dr. Agustín Ernesto Martínez-González is a lecturer in the Department of Developmental Psychology and Didactics at the University of Alicante. He has completed several Master’s degrees related to clinical psychology and clinical neuropsychology, which have provided him with a transversal and neuroeducational perspective of human behaviour. In the field of research, he has participated in more than 50 national and international conferences related to educational psychology, neuropsychology, and clinical psychology. Likewise, he has written numerous articles indexed with JCR (Social Science Edition) as well as books and book chapters. His research interests focus on the repetitive spectrum in various mental disorders (OCD and ASD). In the latter, he has participated in the validation of scales for OCD in Spanish and Chilean adolescents (OCI-R, OCI-CV, etc.) and the RBS-R in Spanish population with ASD and intellectual disability. The latter studies have led to the development of the COREAT app. COREAT is the first app with scientific evidence to detect ASD and measure the severity of repetitive behaviour in people with ASD and people with intellectual disabilities, following DSM-5 criteria (Martínez-González, 2019). In the field of the study of repetitive behaviour, Dr. Martínez-González maintains a multidisciplinary and integrative point of view with the aim of studying the relationship between the severity of repetitive behaviour and variables such as the type of educational centre, adaptive behaviour, negative emotional symptoms, neuropsychological and neurophysiological bases, gastrointestinal symptoms and the brain-intestinal microbiota or gut microbiota relationship. Lastly, Professor Martínez-González is the director of the Integral Research Group on Typical and Atypical Neurodevelopment (GINTA) and editor of the Disability, Clinical and Neurosciences Journal (RDCN).