Based solely on appearance, children with autism are seen as less friendly and less trustworthy by their peers. New research suggests that typically developing children are less positive toward children with autism and form negative impressions after just a 30-second meeting. “Poor expressivity has been documented in autism, but our research demonstrates that this can have a significant impact on forming first impressions,” explained Dr. Steven Stagg of Anglia Ruskin University.
Children asked to assess a video of a variety of children
Dr. Stagg and his team investigated the initial impressions that typically developing children form when watching silent videos of children with and without autism. They asked 44 children aged 11 years to rate the children in the video on several attributes. They were not told there were children with autism in the mix.
Typically developing children need to be educated about autism
Children with autism were rated lower in almost all categories. They were rated less trustworthy, less likely to want to play with and less like to be a friend. According to Stag, “Children with autism spend many years learning about facial expressivity, but our research shows that by the age of 11 their slower development in this area is already marking them out amongst their typically developing peers. Children with autism have a difficult time at school, and research published by The National Autistic Society showed that 40% of children with autism reported being bullied. According to the Department for Education, 71% of children with an autism diagnosis are currently educated in mainstream schools. It is therefore important that schools work with typically developing children to educate them about autism, in order to break through the negative impressions that can be formed through a moment’s contact.”
Source: MedicalNewsToday, Autism