The researchers suggest that autism may be rooted in an impaired ability to predict events and other people’s actions. From the perspective of the autistic child, the world appears to be a “magical” rather than an orderly place, because events seem to occur randomly and unpredictably. In this view, autism symptoms such as repetitive behavior, and an insistence on a highly structured environment, are coping strategies to help deal with this unpredictable world...More at the link. I don't have the PNAS link, but it's a high-quality journal.
“At the moment, the treatments that have been developed are driven by the end symptoms. We’re suggesting that the deeper problem is a predictive impairment problem, so we should directly address that ability,” says Pawan Sinha, an MIT professor of brain and cognitive sciences and the lead author of a paper describing the hypothesis in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week...
This hypothesized deficit could produce several of the most common autism symptoms. For example, repetitive behaviors and insistence on rigid structure have been shown to soothe anxiety produced by unpredictability, even in individuals without autism. “These may be proactive attempts on the part of the person to try to impose some structure on an environment that otherwise seems chaotic,” Sinha says.
Impaired prediction skills would also help to explain why autistic children are often hypersensitive to sensory stimuli...
13 October 2014
Autism as "a disorder of prediction"
From MIT News: