Although the number of children diagnosed with autism keeps rising, it still remains somewhat of a medical mystery. Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia are using an MEG, short for magnetoencephalograpy, to study the brain waves of children with autism disorders. The MEG is records how the children’s brains respond to stimuli like words, sounds and speech.
“When you hear a sound, the brain responds. When a child with autism hears a sound, their brain responds too, but a little bit later. So what we’re seeing is a fraction of second, a split second delay in recognizing that sound,” said lead researcher Tim Roberts, of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
These brain recognition delays lead to more sounds building up on each other which lead to difficulty in perceiving or recognizing sounds and words.
Although, this study won’t answers all of the questions surrounding autism, it may lead to better diagnosis and earlier intervention—the best form of treatment for individuals diagnosed with autism.
One of the main goals of autism research is to help determine if there’s a biological marker – an indication in the brain that a child has autism. That way doctors could diagnose the disorder even before symptoms appear and start intervention even sooner.