Why some children have extreme reactions to noise. A new study examines one of the key mysteries of autism

A new study examines one of the key mysteries of autism.

“I would describe having Asperger’s syndrome as being like a computer that’s running a different operating system than what most computers run,” says Austin Miller, 16. Diagnosed at age 12, Austin’s mother, Karen Miller, noticed even when he was a toddler, he had extreme reactions to sound.

“I learned very early on with him that I had to speak slower and softer because it would upset him, and I would notice that he might not really understand what I’m saying,” said Karen Miller.

Scientists at Vanderbilt University have shown, for the first time, one reason why that kids with autism struggle with communication. Talking is seen as in sync for a typical person. But with autism, in many kids, they experience speech out of sync so there’s a delay between what they hear and see. For them, it’s like watching a badly dubbed movie; the pictures and the words don’t match up. 

 “One of the classic pictures that you see with autism is children that will actually be covering over their ears. They’re trying to filter out that confusing information and focus only on one sense, let’s say vision in this circumstance,” explained Mark Wallace, lead author of the study.

To try to help kids with autism practice putting sounds and sights together, Wallace’s team developed a video game, whichAustin is testing.

As indicated by one of the researchers, part of the therapy is to try to speed up auditory processing. Sound processing is delayed in autism, so about half a second before kids hear the sound they see the picture.

For more information about autism symptoms, please visit http://www.icare4autism.org/news/category/autism-symptoms/

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