Increased Eye Contact During Conversation Compared to Play in Children With Autism

Rebecca M. Jones, Audrey Southerland, Amarelle Hamo, Caroline Carberry, Chanel Bridges, Sarah Nay, Elizabeth Stubbs, Emily Komarow, Clay Washington, James M. Rehg, Catherine Lord, Agata Rozga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Children with autism have atypical gaze behavior but it is unknown whether gaze differs during distinct types of reciprocal interactions. Typically developing children (N = 20) and children with autism (N = 20) (4–13 years) made similar amounts of eye contact with an examiner during a conversation. Surprisingly, there was minimal eye contact during interactive play in both groups. Gaze behavior was stable across 8 weeks in children with autism (N = 15). Lastly, gaze behavior during conversation but not play was associated with autism social affect severity scores (ADOS CSS SA) and the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS-2). Together findings suggests that eye contact in typical and atypical development is influenced by subtle changes in context, which has implications for optimizing assessments of social communication skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)607-614
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Context
  • Eye contact
  • Gaze
  • Naturalistic interactions
  • Play

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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