Girls at risk of autism more socially aware

Infant girls at risk of autism, a Yale School of Medicine study has found, are more socially aware than at-risk infant boys—they pay more attention to people and their faces. This increased awareness was linked to milder social impairments later on and may provide increased access to critical social experiences in early development. In the study, the first of its kind, 101 infants who have older siblings with autism and 61 infants with no risk of autism watched a video of a woman smiling and cooing while pointing to toys and making a sandwich. A team led by Katarzyna Chawarska, Ph.D., associate professor in the Yale Child Study Center and in the Department of Pediatrics, then tracked what the children looked at and for how long. Chawarska’s lab hopes to discover why girls have this social advantage.


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