New study, to be published in the journal, Autism Research, suggests children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders process sound and language slower than children without Autism. Autistic Spectrum Disorders affect as many as one percent of U.S. children. Researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia compared 25 children ages 10 to 17 with Autism to age-matched typically developing children. The children with Autism had an average delay of 11 milliseconds (about 1/100 of a second) in their brain responses to sounds, compared to the control children. Among the group with Autism, the delays were similar, whether or not the children had language impairments. The researchers indicated that more work needs to be done before this can become a standard tool, but this pattern of delayed brain response may be refined into the first imaging marker for Autism. Psychologists and other caregivers typically rely on clinical judgments, such as behavioral observations, often not until a child reaches school age. If researchers can develop imaging results into standardized diagnostic tests, they may be able to diagnose Autism as early as infancy, allowing earlier intervention and treatment.
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