I came across this link today discussing a study that was conducted regarding toddlers and Autism. The study suggests that toddlers that focus on an adult’s mouth instead of the eyes during interaction were more likely to be diagnosed later with some form of Autism.
Here are some excerpts:
Scientists at Yale School of Medicine have found that two-year-olds with autism looked significantly more at the mouths of others, and less at their eyes, than typically developing toddlers. This abnormality predicts the level of disability, according to study results published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
Lead author Warren Jones and colleagues Ami Klin and Katelin Carr used eye-tracking technology to quantify the visual fixations of two-year-olds who watched caregivers approach them and engage in typical mother-child interactions, such as playing games like peek-a-boo.
I’m not sure what type of “eye-tracking technology” they used to conduct this study, but this is fascinating to me. I have definitely seen over the years working with children with disabilities that those diagnosed with Autism do tend to focus on the mouth rather than the eyes–in fact it can be a real struggle to attain eye contact.
Here is another interesting quote:
“Our working hypothesis is that these children’s increased fixation on mouths points to a predisposition to seek physical, rather than social contingencies in their surrounding world. They focus on the physical synchrony between lip movements and speech sounds, rather than on the social-affective context of the entreating eye gaze of others,” said Jones. “These children may be seeing faces in terms of their physical attributes alone; watching a face without necessarily experiencing it as an engaging partner sharing in a social interaction.”
Interesting article–I’d love to hear your response!