Research in Brief: Facial Attention May Predict ASD Six-month-old infants later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders divert their gaze from facial features when that face is speaking, according to a study published Feb. 1 in Biological Psychiatry. ASD typically can’t be diagnosed until age 2, but this and other studies confirm that abnormalities in behavior and attention can ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   April 01, 2014
Research in Brief: Facial Attention May Predict ASD
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Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   April 01, 2014
Research in Brief: Facial Attention May Predict ASD
The ASHA Leader, April 2014, Vol. 19, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB5.19042014.np
The ASHA Leader, April 2014, Vol. 19, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB5.19042014.np
Six-month-old infants later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders divert their gaze from facial features when that face is speaking, according to a study published Feb. 1 in Biological Psychiatry. ASD typically can’t be diagnosed until age 2, but this and other studies confirm that abnormalities in behavior and attention can be detected as early as 6 months.
Researchers led by Frederick Shic at the Yale University School of Medicine used eye-tracking—advanced video monitoring and special software that tracks and “maps” exactly where the eyes focus and for how long—to study children’s reactions to these stimuli. They examined 99 6-month-old infants (57 at high risk and 42 at low risk for developing ASD) to see how they looked at videos of still, smiling and speaking faces. They reassessed the children at age 3 and divided them into groups based on their diagnosis of ASD, other developmental delays or typical development.
The infants who later developed ASD not only looked at all faces less than other infants, but also looked away from key facial features such as the eyes and mouth when they were shown a face that was speaking.
These findings indicate that infants who later develop ASD have difficulty maintaining attention to relevant social information as early as 6 months of age. The authors hope that this and further research can help clarify how and when the developmental trajectory is altered in children who develop ASD and, potentially, develop targeted interventions to normalize their development.
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April 2014
Volume 19, Issue 4