Research on autistic eye tracking interestingly showed:
– THE RIGHT FOCUS: There is no right or wrong focus for eyes, no right or wrong attention pathway to take in a scene or image.
– SEARCHING FOR THE CONSONANT: Almost any element of auditory processing disorder (it’s in the brain, not the ear) for many autistics, will see them struggle with some or all of the consonants, but usually be much stronger at processing subtleties with vowels.
– LIP READING: many autistics focus much more on lip-reading than non-autistics who are likely to gaze more equally at ‘core features’ of the face ― the nose, the mouth, eyebrow movements, and most especially the eyes.
– ‘RANDOM’ FOCUS: autistics are much more likely to look out wide from the action to see a can, or pot, or flower, or wood-grain… and not only miss speech processing for a moment, but have to <infer> what was said or happened.
– LUSCIOUS MOUTHS: even at a romantic dinner date, table set with candle, both male and female autistics spend vastly more time looking at lip movements of their date, even if they talk silently, perhaps attracted more by activity there than the passivity of eyes – the safe mouth, not the scalpel eyes.
– BLINK SYNCHRONICITY: autistics are less likely to synchronize their blinking with non-autistics than like-to-like. Blink-culture for the win!
– BLINK EMOTING: autistics are as likely to keep-up a rhythm of eye-blinking equally through emotional scenes as ho-hum scene setting dross, unlike non-autistics who tend to significantly reduce for the emotional and emotive bits.
– SPOTTING AN ‘E’ IN A SEA OF ‘F’s: increased visual and spatial “IQ” for autistics means spotting “the target” or that which is missing or wrong in a pattern much faster – there is purity of logic in autistic eye-movements, an unmatchable efficiency.
– FOLLOWING DRIVING RULES: autistic adolescents had atypical gaze patterns at social events and for stimuli while driving, but out-performed non-autistics by a wide margin when the driving task involved rule following – showing an ability to interpret things literally and safely adhere to known rules.
– EYE SOAKING: autistics watch videos longer and looked at the videos with more effort and arousal (indicated by changes in pupil diameter) – more than a hint as to how many autistics learn best.
– REMEMBER: some autistics have very fixed gaze, some autistics are blind, generalizations always let someone down.
N.B. There are over 19,000 scientific and literature review articles about autistics and eye-tracking. They do not all agree, and it is hard to draw many firm conclusions from them. One I would avert to is that our eyes seem popular, and perhaps we should all wear sunglasses, charging a high fee for a peek at the unknown.
~ ʎllɐǝɹƃ uɥoɾ
John Greally (NZ)
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- Fierce Autistic Advocate: Autistic History: Autism Society of America