Researchers in America believe they have discovered a way to spot autism by using brain scans, reports the Telegraph.

Children with autism spectrum disorders – or ASD – recognise sounds 11 milliseconds slower than children who don’t have autism, the scientists have found. This delay can be detected with a brain scan.

“An 11-millisecond delay is brief, but it means, for instance, that a child with ASD, on hearing the word ‘elephant’ is still processing the ‘el’ sound while other children have moved on,” explained lead researcher Dr Timothy Roberts.

This tiny delay has been found in children who are 10 years old, but if further tests show the same delay exists in younger children, it could develop into a way to screen for the condition. By scanning brainwaves and detecting autism much earlier, this could in turn mean treatment to help with the symptoms of autism could be undertaken sooner.