“They’re looking less at the eyes not because of an aversion to making eye contact, but because they don’t appear to understand the social significance of eye contact.”
The researchers studied eye gaze responses in young children with autism at the time of their initial diagnosis in order to have clearer evidence about the initial underlying reasons for reduced eye contact.
Some adults and older children with autism have reported feeling anxious in response to eye contact. “Our results aren’t meant to contradict these personal experiences,” emphasized Jones.
“For children with autism, social signals can be confusing. And as children grow up to be adults, those signals can become even more challenging to understand. This research highlights the opportunity to target the right underlying concerns as early as possible.”