FACIAL EXPRESSIONS IN PERSONS WITH AUTISM

13 Jan

HOW FACIALLY EXPRESSIVE ARE PERSONS WITH AUTISM?

A recent analysis of 39 well conducted research studies found that persons with autism spectirum disorder (ASD) are less expressive overall than persons without ASD. Facial expression is an important means of communication. Being able to accurately express inner emotions is critical in conducting meaningful social interactions.

In addition, their facial expressions were found to be less consistent or appropriate to the social context. This characteristic, the authors of the study suggest, likely contributes to the deficits of persons with autism in effecting reciprocal social interactions.

Difficulty in social interaction and communication is one of the two core symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (Repetitive, compulsive behaviors and resistance to change is the other).

Variations in the extent and degree of this deficit were noted in the research. Differences when compared with non-ASD persons were smaller with older age and higher intellectual functioning. This suggests that more knowledge and familiarity with social practices and norms could improve the lack of appropriate and meaningful facial expression when ASD is present. Such familiarity could come with greater socialization and experiences in variable and wider social settings.

Comment: This would imply that greater socialization and experiences with persons without ASD, in the general community, an important outcome in inclusion practices in employment, recreational, and educational settings, could ameliorate, over time, the lack of social competencies notable in persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Reference: Facial Expression Production in Autism: a Meta-analysis. Dominica A. Trevisan, Maureen Hoskyn, Elina Birmingham. Autism Research, December, 2018

 

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