Importance of eye gaze in ASD
Eye gazing is a powerful tool, allowing us to experience a deeper connection to our self and with others. Looking into the eyes of others is important for early social development and adaptation throughout an individual’s life. Also, it’s a form of non- verbal communication, having a great influence on learning social skills. Studies have proven the fact that maintaining eye contact requires cognitive effect and having a relationship between spoken word / mental thought. Eye contact also plays a critical role in communicative learning. During the first half years of life, eye contact facilitates the processing of face identity and communicative social expression. Infants are sensitive to the direction of gaze of others face and that gaze direction can cue attention. Language development is associated with attention to social stimuli and arousal is associated with the increased viewing of stimuli.
An important pre-requisite for joint attention is the ability to follow gaze, which is compromised in children with ASD. Children with ASD are developing mentally delayed in following the gaze, especially in social situations. Studies and reports reveal that eye tracking can differentiate children with ASD from that of typically developing children. One of the earliest sign of autism is the early decline in eye contact which eventually results in poorer task performance. So from the above viewpoint, it is evident that improved eye contact facilitates language development and also social interaction in turns results in learning.