Can you hear me now?
The United States recognizes April as a special opportunity to educate the public about autism and issues within the autism community. Autism’s prevalence is now one in every 88 children in America. Some of the signs of autism include:
• Lack of or delay in spoken language
• Repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, rocking back and forth, twirling objects, etc)
• Little or no eye contact
• Lack of interest in peer relationships
• Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
• Persistent fixation on parts of objects (e.g., wheels on a car, fan blades spinning, etc)
Doctors and family members have been trying to understand how autism, specifically, different senses, affect the child’s mind. Ordinary noises such as a toilet flushing, a fire alarm going off, or even the hum of the computer can be intolerable to children with an autism spectrum disorder or a neurodevelopmental disorder.
A newer study involving 64 children offers new ideas about why sounds may irritate kids on the autism spectrum. The study published January 14th, 2014 in the Journal of Neuroscience found that children with an autism spectrum disorder experience delays when their brains attempt to process information received by their eyes and their ears at the same time. They have a difficult time matching sounds to their appropriate source, as it is a delayed response.
The results of the study indicated that typically it takes the brain about a quarter of a second to identify sights and sounds that belong together. But researchers found that children with autism take about twice as long, about half a second. It was determined the brain can’t successfully pair sights and sounds. That problem seemed to be most common for speech sounds.
The visual signal and auditory signal are not simultaneous. It is similar to talking and listening on a poor cell phone connection. For example, you speak and seconds later you hear your echo of what you just said to the person on the other end. You might be hearing your words after the person on the other end has already moved on with the conversation, maybe even a different conversation. Frustrating…isn’t it? Especially if you had to face this dilemma daily.
This information has been helpful to parents to help understand some of their children’s problems including their behaviors.
Even though children do not “outgrow” autism, it is treatable. Studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes. If you want to learn more about how to treat autism and/or characteristics of autism, you could contact Anita K. Lovell, MA, LMHP, CPC, specializing in behavioral pediatrics. Please call 402-325-0117 ext 3 to schedule an appointment.
Can you hear me now?