Babies later diagnosed with autism tend to stare at objects after picking them up at much later ages than controls do, according to a study published in Behavioral Brain Research1. This delay may contribute to problems with joint attention — the tendency to seek out and follow others’ gaze — in autism, the researchers say. Babies who pick up an object continue to look at it for about a second afterwards, a behavior researchers call ‘sticky attention.’ At 1 year of age, however, they tend to look away as they touch the object, or immediately before. This may allow them to switch their focus to another object or person in the room. Studies have shown that babies later diagnosed with autism still show sticky attention at about 12 months of age2. The new study follows the development of sticky attention over time in babies at risk for autism and controls.
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