Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Laurel Wainwright

Second Advisor

Alice S. Carter

Third Advisor

Kerim Munir


Research indicates a link between autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and obsessive-compulsive behaviors (OCB). Moreover, sensory sensitivity (SS) has been established as a common characteristic in individuals with ASD and potentially in individuals with elevated OCBs. However, there is a lack of research exploring the relationship between OCB and SS in high-functioning individuals with ASD. Exploring this relationship provides further understanding of the specific association between two symptoms that have high prevalence in individuals affected with ASD. In this project the moderating effect of language acquisition on the relationship between SS and OCBs was analyzed to explore the unique contribution language development has on manifestations of obsessions and compulsions in high-functioning individuals with ASD. Secondary data from a family genetics study associated with the Collaborative Programs of Excellence in Autism (CPEA) was analyzed to explore how these constructs are related. Results indicate that high levels of SS predicted increased rates of OCBs. Moreover, the findings of this study suggest that high-functioning individuals with ASD, with elevated rates of SS, and no language delay are more likely to have higher rates of compulsive behavior than those individuals with a language delay. It further highlights the role SS plays in the manifestation of OCBs in ASD.


Free and open access to this Campus Access Thesis is made available to the UMass Boston community by ScholarWorks at UMass Boston. Those not on campus and those without a UMass Boston campus username and password may gain access to this thesis through resources like Proquest Dissertations & Theses Global or through Interlibrary Loan. If you have a UMass Boston campus username and password and would like to download this work from off-campus, click on the "Off-Campus UMass Boston Users" link above.