New Research: Kids With Autism Fixate on Mouth Rather Than Eyes

Kids with the autism fixate longer on a speaker’s mouth rather than the eyes when the conversation turns emotional.

Where do your eyes focus during a conversation? An innovative study by University of Vermont researchers reveals that for children with autism spectrum disorder, the answer depends on how emotional the conversation is.

The study, published in Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, shows that children with the developmental disability fixate longer on a speaker’s mouth rather than the eyes when the conversation turns emotional.

It’s the first study of its kind to use eye tracker technology to monitor eye movement during an interactive conversation, and the results could affect the way speech therapists treat the estimated 1 in 68 children who struggle with the social, communication and behavioral challenges caused by autism spectrum disorder (ASD).