Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability affecting communication, socialization, learning and behavior.
ASD ranges in severity from a handicap that somewhat limits an otherwise normal life to a severe disability that may require long-term institutional care.
How Eye Tracking Can Assess Autism in Children
Currently, ASD is diagnosed using caregiver description, interviews and clinician observations.
However, a number of researchers have shown that eye tracking varies between typically developing children and those with ASD. Eye tracking involves the recording and study of the movements of the eyes in following a moving object, lines of printed text or other visual stimulus.
For example, prominent researcher Dr. Ami Klin, noticed that when he showed a group of children a video, the typical children watched the emotion of expression in the characters while those with ASD focused on a revolving door in the scene that was opening and closing.
Why Eye Tracking Matters to Autism
This type of research is important because a study done at Cleveland Clinic published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reports that eye tracking can differentiate children with ASD from children without ASD, but who have other developmental problems.
The researchers in this study determined that by remotely tracking patients’ eye gaze to social and non-social aspects of pictures and videos, they were able to predict which children would go on to be diagnosed with ASD.
What This Discovery Means for Assessing Child Autism
The Autism Risk Index the researchers formulated is exciting for a number of reasons:
- It provides an objective way to diagnose ASD
- It may lead to earlier diagnosis and earlier intervention
- It may also enhance treatment
If you suspect your child may have ASD, early intervention is key. Visit Autism Speaks to learn what you can do to assess your child and best meet his or her needs.