Autism spectrum disorder (autism) is a highly prevalent and heterogeneous family of neurodevelopmental disorders of genetic origins with potentially devastating implications for child, family, health and educational systems. Despite advances in paper-and-pencil screening and in standardization of diagnostic procedures, diagnosis of autism in the US still hovers around the ages of four or five years, later still in disadvantaged communities, and several years after the age of two to three years when the condition can be reliably diagnosed by expert clinicians. As early detection and treatment are two of the most important factors optimizing outcome, and given that diagnosis is typically a necessary condition for families to have access to early treatment, reducing age of diagnosis has become one of the greatest priorities of the field. Recent advances in developmental social neuroscience promise the advent of cost-effective and community-viable, performance-based procedures, and suggest a complementary method for promoting universal screening and much greater access to the diagnosis process. Small but critical studies have already reported on experiments that differentiate groups of children at risk for autism from controls, and at least one study so far could predict diagnostic classification and level of disability on the basis of a brief experiment. Although the road to translating such procedures into effective devices for screening and diagnosis is still a long one, and premature claims should be avoided, this effort could be critical in addressing this worldwide public health challenge.
KeywordsAutismAutism spectrum disorderEye fixationEye-trackingInfancyProdromalSocial visual engagementCategoriesNeurociencia básicaNeuropediatríaTécnicas exploratorias