Signs of autism can be tough to spot, but new research suggests that babies show symptoms as young as six months
Babies who look away from you when you’re speaking to them may be more likely to be autistic, according to new US research.
Scientists found that babies who avoided looking at faces in a test were more likely to go on to develop autism.
Researchers at Yale University recorded six-month-old babies’ focus on videos of faces using eye-tracking technology.
Once the children were aged three, their behavior was assessed and scientists found that children diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) had looked at the faces less.
Babies who later developed autism were also more likely to avoid looking at the eyes and mouth of the person speaking.
Doctors usually can’t diagnose a child with autism until they are at least two, but these findings suggest that some signs can be spotted as young as six months.
Babies who later developed autism were also more likely to avoid looking at the eyes and mouth of the person speaking
Scientist Dr Frederick Shic says, ‘From birth, infants naturally show a preference for human contact and interaction, including faces and voices.
‘These basic predispositions to social stimuli are altered in individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.
‘These results suggest that the presence of speech disrupts typical attentional processing of faces in those infants later diagnosed with ASD.’
Scientists hope that this kind of research will help discover when autistic children start to develop differently, so more can be done to help them at an earlier stage.
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