A U.S. study used eye-mapping technology to measure levels of eye contact in autistic children compared to other developmentally-delayed children and to children with no learning disabilities. Children with autism (which affects 3.4 out of every 1,000 children between the ages of 3 and 10) are thought to have problems making eye contact but this is the first study to measure it in such a sophisticated way. The study, by researchers at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, compared 15 children with autism, 15 children with other developmental disabilities and 36 normally developing children. The children were shown 10 videos of adults looking directly into the camera and mimicking caregiving and playing with the child. The children with autism looked at the eyes about 30% of the time, compared to 55% for both of the other groups. The children with autism spent almost 40% of the time looking at the mouth area, compared to only 24% of the time in the children in the other groups.
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