Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder characterized by impairment that includes verbal and nonverbal challenges and difficulties in social interactions. In 1943, Kanner accumulated data showing the relationship between emotional deficits and autism. This data was considered important enough to be taken into account. Subsequently, in 1990 Hobson proposed the idea that the origin of the syndrome may be defined in terms of an inability to interact emotionally with other people.
[...] This proves that the poor perception of emotion in autism is due to visual deficits rather than a social gap and thus consolidates the hypothesis of the development of perceptual discrimination. This means that it is possible that the difficulty that people with autism have to deal with respect to emotional expression itself may be due to a more general difficulty in performing the facial mobility that the expression of these emotions requires. This inference calls into question the model of Hobson. [...]
[...] They wanted to know whether the results he obtained could actually be attributed to an emotional deficit or whether they were due to the fact that emotions develop more slowly for children with autism than for normal children. Research suggests that emotional capacity takes four years to develop in children with autism while normal children have it from the outset. However, a thorough study with older children and adolescents would be needed to confirm this hypothesis. Their studies have also shown that autistic children are only able express half the emotions that are expressed by their normal counterparts. [...]
[...] One of the most interesting observations is that the tendency to confuse between emotions decreases between 5 and 8 years. The question that researchers now faced was how to explain these results. The assumption of the development of perceptual discrimination: A child gradually becomes more sensitive to the components that distinguish facial emotions. Facial recognition is a specific cognitive ability, lateralized in the brain that allows a non-dominant and subtle analysis of expression and a fine discrimination of familiar faces (Schwarzer and Leder, 2003). [...]
[...] In order to validate of this idea, he demonstrated that children with autism have great difficulty performing visual-auditory pairings and deciphering emotional expressions. Indeed, the minds of autistic 7 year children are less developed than those of normal children of a similar age in tasks involving emotional matching. In contrast, when the stimuli are non-emotional, the visual-auditory intermodal integration is equally well by children with autism and normal children. However, this observation is hotly contested because of differences in results depending on the yardstick used such as the verbal or non-verbal mental (Objections have been raised by Ozonoff, Pennington and Rogers, 1990). [...]
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