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Autism blocks out body language, says research

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Sufferers of autism struggle to understand the body language of others, which could prevent them from gauging their responses and feelings, new research has revealed.

The daily problems many autistic people have with social interaction could be linked to a failure to process cues from body language, the study by Durham University explains.

Short video clips which showed body movements but concealed faces and sound were showed to adults with autism spectrum disorder, who struggled to identify emotions from the clips. Adults who found the task hardest also struggled with a visual processing test asking them to track the movement of a set of dots on a screen.

Dr Anthony Atkinson, from the university’s department of psychology, said: ‘People with autism are less able to use cues to make accurate judgments about how others are feeling. Our findings point to a difficulty in perceiving or attending to motion as a contributor to the problem of gauging people’s emotions.’

Academic journal Neuropsychologia will publish the findings.

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