Children watched a series of carefully made videos. Before each video, we flashed a small picture to draw the child’s attention. When they looked to where the picture had been, they found that they were either looking right at another person’s eyes or looking away from the eyes.
It was when we presented varying levels of socially meaningful eye contact that children with autism looked less at other people’s eyes.
Together, these findings went against the idea that these young children with autism were avoiding eye contact on purpose or had an aversion to eye contact. Instead, they seemed to not understand or pick up on the underlying social cues and social significance of eye contact.
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