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Blink Patterns May Be a Window Into Autistic Mind
Date:12/13/2011

those 2-year-olds. We were stunned to see typically developing 2-year-old kids would not blink when something emotionally exciting or charged was happening in the movie. What we saw in 2-year-olds with autism was they were more likely not to blink while looking at physical objects in motion."

When you blink, you "lose" a bit of information, Jones added. Therefore, not blinking is a sign that kids find that information most important, engaging or relevant.

The study is published in this week's online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Prior research has found that kids with autism pay less attention to social cues and social information, Jones said. "What these new findings and new measure really gives us is an opportunity to look at in more detail how kids with autism are engaging in whatever it is they are looking at," he said.

Rebecca Landa, director of the Center for Autism & Related Disorders at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, said the study uses a "novel" technique to examine how kids with autism process information and respond to things they see.

"The more evidence that we have about the nature of the information that children with autism are either delayed in deciphering -- in this case, through visual pathways -- or that they have certain preferences or biases for, the more informed we can be in the development of interventions," Landa said. "That's why this is important. We try to take ever more precise steps into understanding what children with autism understand and how they extract information from the world around them."

The study also found that typically developing kids "inhibited" their blinking sooner than the kids with autism, suggesting that they're better able to anticipate what might unfold between the two children on screen.

"There's a growing body of information that young children with autism are not paying attention to or extracting information from soc
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