An NPR article on November 15, 2012 offers information and resources to help parents and child custody lawyers assisting parents understand exactly how children affected by autism and related syndromes process (or fail to process) information and the world around them. First the author describes "normal:"
You walk into a room. There are people there, cars outside, dogs, phones ring, the radio is on, somebody coughs; it's the pleasant blur of a busy world, until something, someone catches your attention. Then you lean in, the other sounds fade back, and you focus. That's how listening works — for most of us.
Then the author shows in a most effective manner, how an autistic child might process what is happening in that room differently, and experiencing sensory overload, feel "mugged by sound." This condition is very familiar to people with Asperger's syndrome as well.
See also the Interacting With Autism Project — a government-sponsored effort to build an interactive, video-intensive website to focus on the best available treatments for autism.
Read the entire article here: Krulwich, R., (2012, November 15). Mugged By Sound, Rescued By A Waitress, National Public Radio, [Accessed November 18, 2012]