Look Into My Eyes

One of the things I noticed about Zoe when we first suspected she had autism was the lack of eye contact. When the neurologist and the developmental pediatrician evaluated Zoe, frequency of eye contact was one of the many things they asked about. Ask most parents of autistic children and they’ll tell you that getting their kids to look at them when they’re speaking is a challenge. Eye fixation has been found to be an indicator of the level of social disability: the children with greater social challenges are the ones who spend the least time looking into people’s eyes.

A recent autism research study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that, when shown videos of adults looking directly into the camera, autistic children spent approximately 40 percent of the time, compared with 24 percent for children in the children in the control groups (which included one group of neurotypical children and a group of developmentally disabled—but not autistic—children). The children studied were are 2 years old, and doctors are optimistic that eye-mapping technology can lead to earlier diagnosis and earlier intervention. Earlier intervention can be crucial in improved outcomes for autistic children.

Some of the common signs of autism include:
-Avoids cuddling or making eye contact
-Does not respond to voices or other sounds
-Does not respond to his or her name
-Does not talk or does not use language properly
-Rocks back and forth, spins or bangs his or her head
-Stares at parts of an object, such as the wheels of a toy car
-Does not understand hand gestures or body language
-Does not pretend or play make-believe games
-Is very concerned with order, routine or ritual and becomes upset if routine is disturbed or changed
-Has a flat facial expression or uses a monotone voice
-Injures himself or herself or is unafraid of danger

Details of the study are available online here. Additional information can also be found at the National Institue of Mental Health website.

What were some of the signs you noticed which led you to believe your child may be different? Email me at [email protected] or leave a comment. Thanks!

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