How do children with autism differ from those without the disorder? Social behaviors, mostly - things like avoiding eye contact or ignoring tone of voice. But recent research has shed light on a more subtle difference - facial features. Scientists at the University of Missouri found that children with autism share certain facial features that distinguish them from other children. At left is an example of a face study author and anatomy professor Dr. Kristina Aldrige mapped with 17 points to calculate facial traits.
What are these distinguishing features? Keep clicking to see images used in the study and compare them with photos of children with autism courtesy of the Autism Society...
Researchers used a camera system that simultaneously captured four images to create a 3-D model of each child
The study found that children with autism have an unusually broad upper face, including wide-set eyes. They also have a shorter middle region of the face, including the cheeks and nose.
Children with autism have a broader or wider mouth and philtrum - the groove below the nose, above the top lip.
This photo of a young boy with autism was not used in the study. But Dr. Aldridge notes that he has the characteristic wide eyes and wide forehead.
This little girl shows the shorter midface region, in the area between the eyes and upper lip, says Dr. Aldridge.
This boy has a wide mouth and forehead, characteristic of boys with autism, says Dr. Aldrige.
This little boy shows a wide forehead and smaller midface, says Dr. Aldrige.
This little boy has a wide forehead and wide eyes, says Dr. Aldrige.
This boy has autism, but Dr. Aldridge says that with the funny facial expression and angle at which this photo was taken, it's hard to tell that he has the distinguishing facial characteristics. This is evidence that while children with autism share similar facial features, they don't look drastically different from those without the disorder.