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Pierce K, Conant D, Hazin R, Stoner R, Desmond J. Preference for Geometric Patterns Early in Life as a Risk Factor for Autism. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2011;68(1):101–109. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2010.113
It is undeniable that early treatment can have a significant positive impact on the long-term outcome for children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).1-3 Early treatment, however, generally relies on the age at which a diagnosis can be made, thus pushing early identification research into a category of high public health priority. Unfortunately, easily implemented methods for facilitating early identification remain to be found.
Eye tracking technology holds promise as an objective method for characterizing the early features of autism because it can be implemented with individuals of virtually any age or functioning level. Historically, the bulk of eye tracking studies have been conducted with older children, adolescents, and adults with autism.4-10 In one of the first studies on this topic, Klin and colleagues10 showed that when watching a socially intense movie, adults with autism predominantly looked at the mouth region of the actors whereas typical subjects looked at the eye region. Bringing this effort into the childhood years, Jones and colleagues11 later showed that even 2-year-olds with autism spent more time fixating on the mouth region than the eyes during face viewing. They raised the provocative possibility that how social images are visually examined could be an early warning sign for autism.
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