Temporally synchronous audio-visual stimuli serve to recruit attention and enhance learning, including language learning in infants. Although few studies have examined this effect on children with autism, it appears that the ability to detect temporal synchrony between auditory and visual stimuli may be impaired, particularly given social-linguistic stimuli delivered via oral movement and spoken language pairings. However, children with autism can detect audio-visual synchrony given nonsocial stimuli (objects dropping and their corresponding sounds). We tested whether preschool children with autism could detect audio-visual synchrony given video recordings of linguistic stimuli paired with movement of related toys in the absence of faces. As a group, children with autism demonstrated the ability to detect audio-visual synchrony. Further, the amount of time they attended to the synchronous condition was positively correlated with receptive language. Findings suggest that object manipulations may enhance multisensory processing in linguistic contexts. Moreover, associations between synchrony detection and language development suggest that better processing of multisensory stimuli may guide and direct attention to communicative events thus enhancing linguistic development.
Patten, E., Watson, L. R., & Baranek, G. T. (2014). Temporal Synchrony Detection and Associations with Language in Young Children with ASD. Autism Research and Treatment, 2014, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/678346