It has long been understood that children with learning difficulties and in particular autism have great difficulty in keeping eye contact with other people. It has been determined after many years of research that this is one of the fundamental reasons that they miss social cues when interacting with other people and in particular find it difficult to express emotion or pick up or or read emotion in others.It has now been researched and discovered that autistic children will tend to focus on the right eye rather than the left when face to face and that rather than look directly at another person and in particular at their pupils, they will tend to focus on particular parts of the face rather than the face as a whole. The mouth appeared to be preferential in the number of children studied.
The study that took place in Japan used 21 controls, age matched and matched for intelligence as well as twenty children diagnosed with autism.Eye tracking devices were used to trace the children's eyes as they looked at pictures of different faces. They were asked whether any of the faces had been seen before.The autistic children were recorded as not spending as much time looking at each of the faces and recognised less of the same faces. When looking at how long each specific area of the face was looked at, the autistic children used the same length of time to dissect what they were seeing. But compared to the control groups they favored just one eye to look at ( the right) and then looked only just below it rather than directly at the eye itself.
As the left side of the face tends to convey more emotional information it may be a reason as to why this was avoided more by the autistic group.