A non-invasive hearing test could aid early detection and diagnosis of autism, according to new research.
Currently, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are typically diagnosed at the age of four using tests that largely rely on speech.
But now, researchers from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Pennsylvania are suggesting the key to early diagnosis could lie in the detection of hearing issues.
As such, they suggest using stapedial reflex testing, also known as acoustic reflex testing, which measures pressure changes in the middle ear in response to sounds, could be the solution.
The non-invasive test assesses a person's sensitivity and response times to a wide range of frequencies.
“Often people with autism suffer from hypersensitivity, meaning even relatively quiet sounds can feel like overwhelming noise,” says Randy Kulesza, professor of anatomy at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.
“If parents and physicians understand that from the start, they can work to acclimate the child's sensitivity and make his or her experience of the world much less intense and frightening.”
Newborn babies do currently have their hearing tested. However, Kulesza says those tests merely assess whether the child can hear on a pass/fail basis.