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Teenagers & Autism

November 14, 2013

Autistic teens and infants at risk for autism share a heightened interest in looking at objects.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Objects and autism. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Autistic teens tend to be very good at distinguishing subtle differences between cars. (Rudolf Stricker/Wikimedia Commons))

Children with autism perceive human faces differently than typically developing children do, which may contribute to social impairments. But according to UC San Diego developmental neuroscientist Karen Dobkins, an enhanced ability to process objects may be partially responsible. She and her team found that autistic teens were much better at picking out slight differences between pictures of nearly identical cars than typically developing teens. And they think these perceptual differences may start early: they also found that infants at risk for autism are really good at distinguishing objects like toys from background noise.

KAREN DOBKINS (UCSD):

And it might be that later on that comes at the expense of processing faces properly.

HIRSHON:

She speculates that a decrease in face-to-face interaction in favor of technology may be contributing to social deficits. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.