• Auditory brainstem evoked responses (ABRs) were studied in 16 autistic children. Three children had severe delays in wave I latency, indicating defective functioning of the peripheral auditory pathway. The remaining subjects also had delayed wave I latency but only for right ear stimulation at the lowest stimulus intensity. Eight autistic children (and no control subjects) had ABR transmission time values 3 SDs beyond the normal mean, suggesting auditory processing defects peripheral to or within the brainstem auditory pathway. These findings (1) may have no causal relationship to the child's autistic handicaps, (2) may represent distortions in auditory input that impair the learning of language, and (3) may reflect an earlier state in which abnormal input directly caused maldevelopment of forebrain systems necessary for language and cognitive function.
Tanguay PE, Edwards RM, Buchwald J, Schwafel J, Allen V. Auditory Brainstem Evoked Responses in Autistic Children. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1982;39(2):174-180. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1982.04290020040008