- problems carrying on conversations
- not being interested in play or other social interactions with other children
- difficulty making friends and/or maintaining friendships
Researchers identified a reason for these problems – people with autism gather information from facial expressions differently than their peers. “The evaluation of an individual’s face is a rapid process that influences our future relationship with the individual,” said Baudouin Forgeot d’Arc, lead author of the study. “By studying these judgments, we wanted to better understand how people with ASD use facial features as cues. Do they need more cues to be able to make the same judgment?”
In this study, researchers showed facial photographs and synthetic images to 71 participants, including 33 with autism. The photos showed different facial expressions. Participants were asked to identify which of the images with neutral expressions showed kindness. The participants reached the same conclusion on the synthetic images, but the results varied when shown photographs leading to the conclusion that the critical component is how information about facial images is gathered.
“We now want to understand how the gathering of cues underpinning these
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judgments is different between people with or without ASD depending on whether they are viewing synthetic or photographic images. Ultimately, a better understanding of how people with ASD perceive and evaluate the social environment will allow us to better interact with them,” said Forgeot d’Arc.
The study, “Atypical Social Judgment and Sensitivity to
Perceptual Cues in Autism Spectrum Disorders” is published in the Journal
of Autism and Developmental Disorders.
©Mary M Conneely T/A Advocacy in Action