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Children with Autism Found to Have Impaired Hearing in Left Ear

Impaired Hearing in Left Ear Found in Children with Autism

By Jen Wilson, 8/6/2013

Hearing is one of many compromised processes found in children with autism spectrum (ASD). Behavioral, cognitive, and developmental markers are often used in the diagnosis of ASD, but some children are first referred for examination because of a perceived hearing loss. When infants and toddlers do not respond to vocal stimuli, parents may assume that their hearing is impaired. However, according to new research, the hearing of children with ASD may be compromised because of the presence of visual stimuli and an attention shifting deficit.

Tatiana A. Stroganova of the MEG Centre at the Moscow State University of Psychology and Education in Russia recently conducted a study of auditory response on a sample of young children with and without ASD. Theories on how ASD affects neurological processes suggest that attention shifting and attentional dysregulation are compromised. More specifically, when a child with ASD is focused on a specific stimulus, they have difficulty shifting their attention to any other co-occurring stimuli, whether it is visual or auditory.

Stroganova’s study involved presenting the children with clicks of certain duration and volume in each of their ears at separate times. A visual stimulus was present at the time of the auditory test and Stroganova assessed how well the children interpreted and responded to the clicks while focusing on the stimulus. She found that in typically developing children (TD), the response to the clicks was stronger and greater than the response found in the children with ASD. Further, the children with ASD showed increased impairments when the clicks were administered in the left ear.

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