For a study, researchers found that facial expressions’ dynamic and nuanced nature in different people or a genuine diagnostic difference may be reflected in autism’s abnormal patterns of facial expression production metrics. Additionally, the diversity of autism symptomatology points to the need for more adaptable and customized social skills training. It would be helpful to have a more thorough grasp of the many expressiveness profiles within the autistic population and how they differ from neurotypicals to achieve this goal. In order to allow an “apples-to-apples” comparison between autistic and neurotypical adults, they used automated facial coding and an unsupervised clustering approach to reduce inter-individual variability in facial expression production that might have obscured group differences in previous studies. To be more precise, they used k-means clustering to differentiate the facial expressiveness subtypes in the autism group (N=27) from the neurotypical control group (N=57). The expressiveness and emotive congruence of the 2  groups that emerged as the most stable from these analyses were then further examined and compared. Investigators’ key discovery was that, regardless of image valence, a subset of autistic persons in the samples exhibited increased spontaneous facial expressions in the samples. Autism was not associated with more improper (i.e., incongruous) facial expressions. The autistic group also discovered a negative correlation between expressiveness and emotion recognition. Study group, prior study on self-reported empathy, and the most recent research on expressivity hint at an increase in emotional resonance and facial emotions in autism that may not necessarily be beneficial (e.g., experiencing similar emotional resonance regardless of valence). These findings supported earlier research showing that the intensity of facial expressions was unaffected by autism, and they point to the necessity for intervention programs that concentrate on social skills and emotion recognition in the presence of both positive and negative emotions.

Source: jneurodevdisorders.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s11689-022-09451-z