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Visual pattern preference may be indicator of autism in toddlers
Date:9/6/2010

his preference, compared to just two percent of the typical and nine percent of the developmentally delayed toddlers. Thus, while 40 percent of the ASD toddlers were geometric responders, the remaining 60 percent were similar to the typical and developmentally delayed groups in preferring dynamic social images.

What an infant prefers to look at when given a choice between two images may turn out to be a more clearly observable indicator of autism risk than how he or she looks at a single image, Pierce said. Among toddlers who strongly prefer geometric patterns, we found that almost 100 percent of the time those children developed an autism spectrum disorder.

A preference for geometric patterns alone may be an intriguing novel identifier of early autism, but the research results also illustrated a distinct pattern of saccades rapid, directed eye movements among the geometric responders.

We initially predicted that ASD toddlers overall would show a reduced number of saccades, Pierce explained However, results revealed that it was only the geometric responders, not the group as a whole, who displayed a reduced number of saccades; and this pattern was only evident when they were viewing their preferred geometric patterns. It was almost as if they got stuck and didnt move their eyes as much as typical toddlers when viewing geometric patterns. The geometric patterns were apparently very absorbing to them.

The researchers concluded that a preference for moving geometric patterns, combined with how long toddlers stare when looking at moving geometric images, might be an early identifier of autism.

If your baby occasionally enjoys looking at the screen saver on your computer, it is no cause for alarm, said Pierce. But if your baby looks at such moving geometric patterns for long periods of time, but not at fun, social images, you might want to check for other early warning signs of autism.

Such warning s
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Contact: Debra Kain
ddkain@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

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