LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The latest research shows one in 68 children will be diagnosed with autism. Many of these kids struggle with making friends, communicating with others, and social interactions in general.
While no one yet knows what causes autism, scientists at Vanderbilt University are finding out exactly what's out of sync when children with autism try to express themselves and communicate with others.
"Generally I would describe having asperger's syndrome as being like a computer that's running a different operating system than what most computers are running," said 16-year-old Austin Miller, who has asperger's.
Diagnosed at age 12, his mom Karen says she's always noticed a delay in the way he processed speech.
"I would say something to him and then I would say, 'Austin, did you?' and then he would start to answer. And so I learned, I have to give him more time," she said.
Now a new study is helping explain why. Headed up by Dr. Mark Wallace, a team at Vanderbilt found what kids with autism see is out of sync with what they hear.
"It's like a badly dubbed video is the way we describe it," said Wallace.
In some, the timing can be completely off.
"And we believe that, that change in the binding of visual and auditory information is sort of the foundation for the problems that they have in things like language and communication and social interactions," said Wallace.
That sounds spot on to Austin.
"I think I can see a couple memories where I'm talking to my dad and maybe his mouth just looks a little bit out of sync," he said.
Researchers are building on that knowledge by testing a new interactive video game that's designed to retrain the brains of those with autism, focusing on how rewards help the brain.
"So it basically takes the tuning of the nervous system and shapes it, so that they get better," said Wallace.
The ultimate goal is to help kids like Austin communicate better.
The study also helps explain why some children with autism are often seen covering up their ears or eyes; it could be the delay in sight and sound that confuses them and makes them focus on one sense at a time.
Vision, hearing out of sync for kids with autism, study says