Researchers at the University of Rochester, New York have identified the presence of an inner-ear problem in children with autism that may limit their ability to recognize speech.
The study by Anne Lueke and her colleagues tested children between the ages of 6 to 17 with and without autism. Their study found that children with autism had a hearing difficulty in the frequency 1-2 kilohertz (kHz), a region important for processing speech.
Even more interesting, the degree of hearing impairment was directly associated with the severity of symptoms in the children with autism.
Although there is no association between hearing impairment and autism, this simple noninvasive hearing test could help doctors intervene far earlier and help children overcome obstacles to learning, with or without autism. “Additionally, these findings can inform the development of approaches to correct auditory impairment with hearing aids or other devices that can improve the range of sounds the ear can process,” said Loisa Bennetto, co-author of the study.
Better yet, researchers claim this test can be easily adapted to screen infants.