Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 43, Issue 12, pp 2779–2792

Atypical Gaze Following in Autism: A Comparison of Three Potential Mechanisms

  • K. Gillespie-Lynch
  • R. Elias
  • P. Escudero
  • T. Hutman
  • S. P. Johnson
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10803-013-1818-7

Cite this article as:
Gillespie-Lynch, K., Elias, R., Escudero, P. et al. J Autism Dev Disord (2013) 43: 2779. doi:10.1007/s10803-013-1818-7

Abstract

In order to evaluate the following potential mechanisms underlying atypical gaze following in autism, impaired reflexive gaze following, difficulty integrating gaze and affect, or reduced understanding of the referential significance of gaze, we administered three paradigms to young children with autism (N = 21) and chronological (N = 21) and nonverbal mental age (N = 21) matched controls. Children with autism exhibited impaired reflexive gaze following. The absence of evidence of integration of gaze and affect, regardless of diagnosis, indicates ineffective measurement of this construct. Reduced gaze following was apparent among children with autism during eye-tracking and in-person assessments. Word learning from gaze cues was better explained by developmental level than autism. Thus, gaze following may traverse an atypical, rather than just delayed, trajectory in autism.

Keywords

Response to joint attentionAutismReflexive gaze followingWord learning

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. Gillespie-Lynch
    • 1
    • 2
  • R. Elias
    • 3
  • P. Escudero
    • 4
  • T. Hutman
    • 5
  • S. P. Johnson
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCollege of Staten Island, City University of New YorkStaten IslandUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  4. 4.MARCS InstituteUniversity of Western SydneySydneyAustralia
  5. 5.Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Semel Insitute for Neuroscience and Human BehaviorUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA