Autism: Hypersensitivity and Auditory Function


Autism is a neurological disorder that affects all the senses. However, hearing (as one of our senses) is especially affected because autism specifically targets the ears.  Sound is altered with this disorder.

Understanding the Anatomy of the Inner Ear

Hypersensitivity can affect children to the point that even quiet sounds can be disruptive to neurological function. The acoustic reflex is an involuntary muscle contraction in the ear when we speak – or hear loud noises.   Muscles pull tightly within the ‘middle ear’ to protect the delicate machinery of the inner ear from being damaged.  It’s mostly used against deeper, low-frequency sounds – such as a heavy object hitting with the floor.  Dr. Kulesza said: ‘”We know the vast majority of people with autism have some type of hearing problem connected to abnormalities in the brain.” Early intervention is key because the issues of sensory misfiring only grows worse.

Diagnosed Early Can Improve Function

Research is ongoing with autistic behaviors to figure out how it can be diagnosed early, especially at birth. A hearing test at birth only tests those high and low frequency sounds. However, improved testing at birth may enable the start of therapy at a younger age, which could hinder those negative behaviors later in life. Proper Auditory function improves social or communication skills and helps limit repetitive behaviors.

Behaviors Linking to Auditory Dysfunction

Some of the repetitive behaviors that could be disruptive to a child’s brain functioning are self-injurious gesturing, rocking, stimming on stimulating colors or objects, and getting hooked into routines. These behaviors can be caused by a dysfunctional mechanism through a child’s auditory function.  Hearing certain sounds in an altered state -inability to filter out sounds via multiple auditory stimuli-can cause negative social or learning reactions.

The Perfect Hearing Test For Infants-Diagnose Autism Early

Known as acoustic, or ‘stapedial’, reflex testing it’s non-invasive – so can be used on infants without endangering their health.”The technique measures pressure changes in the middle ear in response to sounds – assessing sensitivity and response times to a wide range of frequencies.” Research in ongoing and will continue to better diagnose the ever increasing neurological disorder.