From AOA First Look:
The Oregonian (8/6, Rojas-Burke) reported, “Within three months of birth, babies show a strong preference for eye contact,” and “spend more time looking at eyes than any other part of a person’s face or body.” In children with autism, however, “this behavior falters early,” and “contribute[s] to the difficulties they have relating to others,” experts say.
According to a study published in the Aug. issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, “eye-mapping technology” may have “prove[n] that children with autism don’t make eye contact like normally developing children do,” HealthDay (8/6, Gordon) reported. For the study, Ami Klin, Ph.D., of the Yale University School of Medicine, and colleagues, “compared 15 children with autism to 36 typically developing children, and to another 15 children who were developmentally delayed, but not autistic. All of the children were two years old.” The youngsters “were shown 10 videos of adults looking directly into the camera,…mimicking caregiving, and playing with the child. While the videos were running, the researchers used eye tracking to assess the child’s visual fixation patterns.” The investigators found that children with autism “looked at the eyes about 30 percent of the time, compared to nearly 55 percent for both of the other groups.” Specifically, “[c]hildren with autism spent almost 40 percent of the time looking at the mouth area, while children in the other groups only spent about 24 percent of the time looking at this area.”