Problems in recognising emotions have been seen as one of the main symptoms of autism but previous laboratory studies have produced mixed results and have had a number of flaws including a small sample size, participants with a narrow range of IQs and an over concentration on visual tests which ignores the ways in which people perceive emotions. A team of researchers led by Catherine R.G. Jones from the Institute of Education in London studied 156 teenagers comparing their ability to recognise emotions both in faces and in voices. They found 'no evidence of a fundamental emotion recognition deficit' in the teenagers with autism and both groups tended to make the same mistakes. The only emotion the teenagers with autism were worse at detecting was surprise. The most important factor in how well the youngsters did was IQ, with the teenagers with a higher IQ doing better on the tests.
Jones, C. R., Pickles, A., Falcaro, M., Marsden, A. J., Happé, F., Scott, S. K., Sauter, D., Tregay, J., Phillips, R. J., Baird, G., Simonoff, E. and Charman, T. A multimodal approach to emotion recognition ability in autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02328.x