Local professors and students are getting together to find out why thousands more people are being diagnosed with autism in the panhandle every year.
Professors and students at WT are researching autism behaviors and cognitive processing to help reduce the increasing number of children developing this disorder. There are about 30,000 cases in our panhandle area.
WTAMU Psychology Associate Professor Timothy Atchison says, "People with this diagnosis may process sound differently. And that may account also for why many of them also have a sensitivity to sound. They really get upset with loud noises. "
And this is what they want to investigate by conducting cognitive, social communication, auditory, and emotion perception exams.
WT Psychology Student and Researcher Dustin Penn says, "It's greatly increased in recent years. And I felt like it's important to maybe nail down what autism spectrum could be."
These researchers want to be able to understand autistic individuals' vocal intonations and facial expressions to help them. Dr. Atchison says, "A researcher doing mice research. There's a mice model of autism, actually found some issues in auditory processing in mice that are similar to what we would be saying. That's problems with how the auditory system is connected. And how it handles sound."
Atchison says they want to determine whether there's a pattern and how it's linked to an individual's difficulty in social interaction and brain processing. He says, "The more we understand about it, the more likely that we're going to be able to intervene and help children. and help them develop more normally and reach their potential. And so basic research always for me leads to clinical applications."
WT is looking for autistic candidates between 15 and 25 years old who want to participate in this study. You may contact Atchison at 806-651-2729 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jessica Abuchaibe, NewsChannel 10.