AC WP RSCN4338 ENH2Here is the first paragraph from a July 18/22 story on Science Daily:

Noticing and understanding what it means when a person leans into a conversation or takes a step back and crosses their arms is a vital part of human communication. Researchers at the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester have found that children with autism spectrum disorder may not always process body movements effectively, especially if they are distracted by something else.

Now to most of those on the spectrum, and those who teach or look after autistic children, this is not a particularly new idea. I noticed long ago that I didn’t respond to body language in the intuitive way most people seem to. But I think this study is valuable.

Basically what they did is put children from 6 to 16 yrs, some autistic and some not, on an EEG while they watched a video where multi-colored dots, arranged in the form of a person, moved about the way people do. Sometimes the dots changed into non- human patterns. The kids were asked to either focus on the color of the dots, or on the movement of the dots.

The researchers apparently found that the autistic children didn’t process when the dots moved like a person if they were focused on the dot color, while the others did. John Foxe, the leader of the study says,

This is more evidence of how the brain of someone with autism is processing the world around them …….This research is a vital step in creating a more inclusive space for people with autism by giving a glimpse of how their brain processes an unspoken part of communication.

Emily Knight, Ph.D, another of the researchers, adds:

If their brain is processing body movements less they might have a harder time understanding other people, and need to pay extra attention to body language in order to see it….. Knowing this can help guide new ways to support people with autism.

What I like most here is that there is no talk about disease or disorder. They talk only about difference. This looks to me like a sign that science is catching up to the reality of autism.

If you want to read the full Science Daily article, here is a link: tism/

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