Researchers have identified an inner ear deficiency in children with Autism that may impact their ability to recognize speech.
The findings, which were published in the journal Autism Research, could ultimately be used as a way to identify children at risk for the disorder at an early age.
“This study identifies a simple, safe, and non-invasive method to screen young children for hearing deficits that are associated with Autism,” said Anne Luebke, Ph.D., an associate professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Neuroscience and a co-author of the study. “This technique may provide clinicians a new window into the disorder and enable us to intervene earlier and help achieve optimal outcomes.”
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impairments in social-communication skills and restricted and repetitive behaviors. While many signs of ASD are present before age two, the majority of children with ASD are not diagnosed until after age four, which means that corrective therapies are started later, delaying their potential impact.
One of the challenges to early detection of ASD is to find ways to identify children at risk for the disorder sooner and in children with speech delays. Some of the earliest and consistent signs of ASD involve auditory communication, however, most tests rely on speech, and are often ineffective in children who are very young or who have communication delays.