A new study at Vanderbilt University found that children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have trouble integrating simultaneous information from their eyes and their ears. Most children with ASD experience difficulties with communication and social interaction and the link between ASD and sensory processing may well help to explain some of these challenges. One of the co-authors of the study, Stephen Camarata, explained: “Children with autism have difficulty processing simultaneous input from audio and visual channels. That is, they have trouble integrating simultaneous information from their eyes and their ears... It is like they are watching a foreign movie that was badly dubbed, the auditory and visual signals do not match in their brains.” Results were published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Children with ASD and visual impairments (VI) were not specifically addressed in the study, but results would indicate that it is especially important to help children with ASD/VI to link structured concrete experiences to meaningful concepts and vocabulary, at a pace and in a form that they understand.