Coloured filters have been found to reduce visual distortion of text in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). We investigated the effect of the overlays on the "mind in the eye" task in children with ASD and controls matched for age, gender, and nonverbal IQ. Children were shown photographs of the periocular region of various faces and were asked to judge which emotion was being expressed in the eyes. In children with ASD, the perception of the emotion was significantly improved when the photograph was covered by a coloured overlay. The improvement was significantly greater than in the controls, who showed no significant effect of the overlay. A perceptual impairment may contribute to the social difficulties shown in ASD.