Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside

Minor Facial Anomalies (Dysmorphisms) in Some People With Autism


Note This is from personal observation and doesn’t represent all people on the autism spectrum and facial anomalies affect a percentage of people with autism these are from personal, parental observations as well as a contribution by Dr. Emily Casanova and would need to see a dysmorphologist but just from general observations certainly my eyes, philtrum, nasal bridge have particularities.

Looking back at some of the pictures in my youth and reading the studies it is interesting draw conclusions of these variants in facial structure


. Here is some text from the article in a study on the subject in 2012.

The study found children with autism had wider eyes, and a “broader upper face
,” compared with typically developing children. According to the study, children with autism also had a shorter middle region of the face – including the nose and cheeks – as well as a wider mouth and philtrum, the divot above the lip and below the nose.

The study also found that children with more severe autism traits such as behavioral problems, language difficulties, and repetitive behaviors had distinct facial differences from other children with milder autism.

Baby Pictures High Chair
Broader Upper Facial Region (Forehead & Shallow Nasal Bridge) 1

Baby Pictures Deck Chair I Year Old
Broader Upper Facial Region (Forehead) 2

Paul 1996 - 7 1

Wider Upper Face (Wider Set Eyes)

Looking at some pictures in my early years I do have a wider mouth, wider set eyes and also a broader upper facial region (notice in this picture right eye is slightly misaligned and the left is looking straight ahead). This photo was taken in 1996.

Me Toddler

Shorter Mid-Face Region 1 (Nose, Cheeks & Philtrum)

I also have a shorter middle region of the face this includes the cheeks and nose region as well as the neurological effects of mild brain injury and visual perceptual disorders (notice the left eye is misaligned and inverting outwards while my right eye is looking straight ahead). This photo was taken in 1990.

Toddler 1

Shorter Mid-Face Region 2 (Nose, Checks & Philrum)

My philtrum I would say is somewhat wider (but not overtly noticeable) and shallow you can see a shorter mid face region (nose and cheeks) giving my face a “squashed” appearance. (notice eyebrow misalignment) This photo was taken in 1990.

Scarf and Braids

As my face has grown some of the characteristics are still “there” just not as noticeable and would certainly consider them minor anomalies in that context. I do notice in this picture a shorter mid-face region between eyes and upper lip, wide mouth and philtrum to some degree, residual effect of mild brain injury with asymmetrical smile. This photo was taken as adult in 2010s.

Eye 1

Eye 2

Shallow Philtrum

Profile Shot 2016

Premature Birth & Left-Handedness

In the book the “Left-Hander Syndrome” by Stanley Coren he concludes that potential birth difficulties such as trauma, foetal distress, c-section section (to name but a few) can contribute to people being left handed also rare physical characteristics such my case two ears noticeably different heights on the head. This conclusion in my case is clear that a part of my “autism fruit salad” and that the complications of brain injury and handedness (such as language aphasia, simultagnosia, semantic agnosia etc) has had an overall impact on my development as well as psychological mood, anxiety disorders as well as depression.

“The findings of that paper only seem to apply to a minority. I wouldn’t necessarily say you fit the results. However, just at a cursory glance, your childhood pictures do seem to be mildly dysmorphic. Shallow bridge to the nose, epicanthal folds (which are due to underdevelopment of the bridge of the nose), mildly downslanted palpebral fissures, possibly a shallow philtrum but hard to tell just from photos. You would have needed to have measurements done. The spacing of the eyes would need to be measured, because the appearance of the bridge of the nose can give the illusion of different spacing of the eyes. Have you ever been genetically tested? It’s not a bad idea.”

Observations of pictures by Dr. Emily Cananova which have been noted by my parents I certainly have larger “doe eyes”, a wider mouth, smoother philtrum – still a human though! 😉

Other Blog Pages On The Subject

Autistic Facial Characteristics Identified

FASD, Autism and neurological challenges

Paul Isaacs 2016

Author: Paul Isaacs

Paul was branded as a “naughty & difficult child” at school. He was classically autistic and non-verbal due to speech articulation difficulties. He had complex sensory issues and appeared both deaf and blind. He gained functional speech around the age of 7 or 8 years old. He went through the mainstream school system with no additional help or recognition of his autism. Consequently, he did not achieve his academic or his social potential and had very low self-esteem. At age 11, Paul was referred to the children’s mental health service with childhood depression where he was regarded as “developmentally underage” and having speech problems. As an adult, Paul had a string of unsuccessful jobs, and his mental health suffered. He developed both Borderline and Schizotypal Personality Disorders in early 2007. He was referred to mental health services and misdiagnosed with “Asperger traits with a complex personality”, which did not satisfy Paul or his family. A local autism organisation put Paul in touch with an experienced psychiatrist, who diagnosed him with Autism at 24 years old. In 2012 Paul was also diagnosed with Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome by an Irlen Consultant who confirmed that he also had face, object and meaning blindness – conditions which Paul describes eloquently in his speeches and training sessions. He also has dyslexia, dyscalculia and also a dissociative disorder. Having started working as an local autism organisation as a public speaker in 2010, Paul joined their mission to promote autism awareness. His hope is that others will not have to suffer as he did. Now also a core member of our Training Team, Paul continues to enhance true understanding of autism at every opportunity. Paul has released and published 5 books on the subject of autism published by Chipmunka publishing and has contributed to other books too. Having overcome many challenges to achieve the success that he now enjoys, Paul’s message is that Autism is a complex mix of ability and disability. He firmly believes that every Autistic person should have the opportunity to reach their potential and be regarded as a valued member of society. Apart from autism related blogs Paul also write about movies, fashion, art and anything that is of interest. As of August 2015 Paul now works as a freelance speaker, training and consultant in and around the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire area. If you are interested please contact him via email at

5 thoughts on “Minor Facial Anomalies (Dysmorphisms) in Some People With Autism

  1. Pingback: Minor Facial Anomalies in Autism — Paul Isaacs‘ Blog | yowriterblog

  2. This is something that I have wondered about, myself. My oldest child has some, maybe all, of the traits you list here. It is hard for me to tell, because I am of course very accustomed to him. Yet he is markedly different from his siblings in his facial features- and in the ways you mention.

    • Yes certainly for some people on the spectrum there may well be minor anomalies in appearance that at first glance may not be for obvious – Emily Casanova is writing a paper on the subject so I am sure she will have some more info on the subject. 🙂 Kindest regards Paul

  3. My son as well Paul has the shallow philtrum

  4. Pingback: Minor Facial Anomalies (Dysmorphisms) in Some People With Autism – Art by Nicole Corrado

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