Attention patterns and preferences have become a key area of research in understanding individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) due to the critical role that attention plays in learning and development across the lifespan. Results from many studies have shown that people with ASD have differences in the way they pay attention to their environment, and that early differences in attention have been associated with later difficulties with social communication. Across studies that have examined attention differences in ASD, some of the clearest differences have emerged in studies of attention to complex, dynamic social stimuli (e.g., two real people interacting in a video).
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How do children and adolescents see different things in the world around them? There is so much visual information in the world and our brains work to efficiently process what is most important. Our brains are tuned to process different types of images with varying levels of precision, which helps us see what is necessary and filter out what is not. Previous research suggests that children with autism may have difficulty processing faces, but that they may show a strength in processing other types of visual information.
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Auditory processing deficits have been found to be one of the earliest signs of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Testing early auditory processing is difficult in very young, minimally verbal children, but the integrity of outer hair cell function can be evaluated reliably using otoacoustic emissions (OAEs). Sound causes contractions of the outer hair cells and generates acoustic signals (OAEs), which can be recorded in the external ear canal (Kemp, 2002). Measuring these signals is noninvasive and reliable, and is a routine approach to testing auditory functioning in children as young as infancy.
Learn more about Otoacoustic Emissions and Auditory Feedback in Minimally Verbal Children with ASD