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Autistic children can outgrow difficulty understanding visual cues and sounds
Date:8/28/2013

BRONX, NY -- Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have shown that high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD) children appear to outgrow a critical social communication disability. Younger children with ASD have trouble integrating the auditory and visual cues associated with speech, but the researchers found that the problem clears up in adolescence. The study was published today in the online edition of the journal Cerebral Cortex.

"This is an extremely hopeful finding," said lead author John Foxe, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics and in the Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience, as well as director of research of the Children's Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center at Einstein. "It suggests that the neurophysiological circuits for speech in these children aren't fundamentally broken and that we might be able to do something to help them recover sooner."

According to Dr. Foxe, the ability to integrate "heard" and "seen" speech signals is crucial to effective communication. "Children who don't appropriately develop this capacity have trouble navigating educational and social settings," he said.

In a previous study, Dr. Foxe and his colleagues demonstrated that children with ASD integrate multisensory information such as sound, touch and vision differently from typically developing children. Among typically developing children, multisensory integration (MSI) abilities were known to continue improving late into childhood. The current study looked at whether one aspect of MSI -- integrating audi
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Contact: Kim Newman
sciencenews@einstein.yu.edu
718-430-3101
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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