When I first heard this explanation, I thought it was another one of those wild ideas with no proof, such as Autism is caused by processed food or fluoride in the water or some other nonsense. What changed my mind was reading many first-person accounts by people with Autism, hearing people with Autism talk about their experiences.
The best example I can give is this…
Today, I was sitting in the car with my little girl and her friend. The radio was turned on and the girls were talking loudly in the back seat. At the same time, I was speaking with someone on my cell phone. Although it was a bit annoying, I was able to carry on the conversation. It was possible to assign the radio and girls talking to background noise and focus on what my friend was saying. At the same time, I could watch the road and cars in front of me and to the side.
What if you could not do this? What if you could not listen to the person on the phone because the noise of the radio bothered you so much. We’ve all probably had that experience, when the radio was turned up so loudly you could not hear anything else. What some people with Autism say is that they have those kinds of experiences on a daily basis. Even if the music does not sound particularly loud to us, they find it very distracting.
The first time I had a child with Autism in my classroom and he complained constantly about the student next to him, how much he tapped with his pencil, how much the other student’s occasional remarks bothered him, I chalked it up as just another behavior problem. That may have been the case, but what some people with Autism have said is that they have trouble focusing on just one thing in the environment.