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Advances in health and medicine.
Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Autism Channel
Reported September 2, 2014

The Sights and Sounds of Autism

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- The numbers are shocking! One in 68 children will be diagnosed with autism.  These kids struggle with making friends, social interaction and communication.

We don’t know what causes one child to have autism and the other not to but now researchers may have unlocked one key on what causes these kids to have these social problems.

Ask 16-year-old Austin Miller what it’s like to live with Asperger’s syndrome.

Austin Miller told Ivanhoe, “Generally I would describe having Asperger’s syndrome as being like a computer that’s running a different operating system than what most computers are running.”

Diagnosed at age 12, his mom Karen says she’s always noticed a delay in the way he processed speech.

Karen Miller told Ivanhoe, “I would say something to him and I would say, ‘Austin, did you?’ and then he would start to answer. And so I learned I have to give him more time.”

Now a new study is helping explain why. Headed up by doctor Mark Wallace, a team at Vanderbilt found what kids with autism see is out of sync with what they hear.

Mark Wallace, PhD, of Vanderbilt Brain Institute told Ivanhoe, “It’s like a badly dubbed video is the way we describe it.”

The timing of what they see and what they hear does not sync up.

Wallace told Ivanhoe, “We believe that change in the binding of visual and auditory information is sort of the foundation for the problems that they have in things like language, communication and social interactions.”

That sounds about right to Austin.

Austin Miller told Ivanhoe, “I think I can see a couple memories where I’m talking to my dad and maybe his mouth just looks a little bit out of sync.”

Researchers are building on that knowledge by testing a new interactive video game that’s designed to retrain the brains of those with autism, focusing on how rewards help the brain.

Wallace said, “So it basically takes the tuning of the nervous system and shapes it, so that they get better.”

The ultimate goal is to help kids like Austin communicate better.

This study also helps explain why some children with autism are often seen covering up their ears or eyes. It could be the delay in sight and sound that confuses them and makes them focus on one sense at a time.

For additional research on this article, click here.

Sign up for a free weekly e-mail on Medical Breakthroughs called First to Know by clicking here.

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Kim Groves at


Mark Wallace, PhD
Vanderbilt Brain Institute
(615) 936-6709


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