Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Living Edition
| Editors: Fred R. Volkmar

Face Processing in Autism: Active Avoidance of the Eyes Versus Passive Indifference

  • James W. TanakaEmail author
  • Patrick Dwyer
  • Hidemi Kyotani
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6435-8_102199-1


A person’s face is the source of their identity, a reflection of their internal emotions, and the means by which they communicate thoughts, feelings, and intentions to others. Most people are “expert” face perceivers – able to identify a familiar face, interpret a facial expression, and follow a person’s gaze, instantaneously, effortlessly, and without conscious forethought. However, many individuals on the autism spectrum experience difficulties with face processing and struggle to understand the perceptual and social cues conveyed by the human face.

Current Knowledge

If individuals on the autism spectrum have difficulties recognizing faces and understanding the emotional and social cues in a face, this could contribute to problems in the navigation of everyday interpersonal interactions. In this article, we will discuss the face processing strategies employed by people on autism spectrum and their problems with recognizing face identities and expressions, gaze following,...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • James W. Tanaka
    • 1
    Email author
  • Patrick Dwyer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hidemi Kyotani
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Autism Research, Technology & Education, Department of PsychologyVictoriaCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA