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promoting eye contact???

(13 Posts)
zzzzz Fri 16-Sep-16 13:47:28

I wonder if any of you with children with asd/autism/aspergers/social communication difficulties (or with those difficulties yourselves), would share with me what you think/feel about promotoing eye contact?

I have never really got on board with the idea. To me eye contact is not important and if it makes ds uncomfortable or just isn't part of his normal body language then so what? I feel uncomfortable forcing something or even encouraging something that I see as personal rather than "good manners". For example I would (and do) stop him picking his nose or shouting very close to people, but I don't insist on eye contact or smiling.

ds has recently started a new school (which I like) and they are playing games to "promote eye contact" in some sessions. I'm now wondering what I think about it and could do with some others ideas to focus my thinking IYKWIM.

flowers and obviously brew

PolterGoose Fri 16-Sep-16 14:39:02

Lots of autistic people, including my ds, find eye contact painful. I taught ds instead to 'check his audience' so quick glances at whoever he's talking to/with to check they're still listening/alive. There are other ways to show you're engaged/concentrating.

Borka Fri 16-Sep-16 14:59:39

I taught DS to 'cheat' at eye contact by looking at the person's ear or forehead, rather than their eyes, if anyone specifically asks him to look at them. People don't seem to be able to tell the difference.

zzzzz Fri 16-Sep-16 15:08:22

My feeling is that it's a bit like stimming in that it's involuntary and his eye contact is good when he is relaxed and engaged and not when he is stressed and/or unengaged. Conversely he stims less when engaged and happy and the reverse when not.

But I am irritated by my descriptor "good" with reference to eye contact because what is good?. angry

I don't suppose any of you have any research you've read?

I REALLY didn't want to be critical this early in the term sad

PolterGoose Fri 16-Sep-16 15:30:19

This blog post isn't specifically about eye contact but it sheds interesting light on related stuff.

There's been research which shows autistic people are more likely to look at mouths than eyes.

PolterGoose Fri 16-Sep-16 15:37:56

This is better, 'Autism and Eye Contact' by Judy Endow

Ineedmorepatience Fri 16-Sep-16 16:29:55

Eye contact with some people makes me feel sick!

Melawati Fri 16-Sep-16 21:16:19

I suppose 'good' eye contact would be a level of eye contact that feels comfortable and appropriate for both parties.
Like you I've noticed that DD is far more comfortable with eye contact when otherwise unstressed and relaxed, any focus on it as a goal tends to have the opposite effect, because she's instantly on edge.
She's about to start at SS, I'm wondering if we might be going to encounter some of these same issues.
For me I guess it would depend if the 'games' were fun and enjoyable, and whether the game stopped as soon as my DD wanted it to.
I guess I see eye contact more as a 'nice to have' life skill than basic good manners.
I'm going to read polter's links now to improve my understanding.

Laurajay84 Fri 16-Sep-16 21:42:26

My DS is 3 and has autism. His eye contact at times can be virtually non-existent but it is not something that I would ever push, particularly if it is uncomfortable for him.

I honestly think it is more difficult for me when he wont look at me as I feel like we're not connecting as such. It makes my heart smile when he really looks at me with that gorgeous happy face grin

Imaginosity Sat 17-Sep-16 06:23:48

I tell DS to check the facial expression of the person he's talking to - and then he'll know if they are interested and want him to continue talking or if they are getting bored. I practise it with him. Like sometimes if he's talking way too much about something I look bored. I just want to prepare him for he reality of dealing with other children who won't wait around facilitating his conversations. I don't do this constantly, just now and then to remind him.

When other people are talking in real life or films I ask him to look at the faces and read from them what the people are thinking.

His eye contact was very poor at about age 4 but a good bit better now at age 7. I'm not sure why it has improved - maybe just a natural improvement.

zzzzz Sat 17-Sep-16 08:59:48

Teaching children to make eye contact is not the same as teaching them to read body language and facial expressions though, because the latter is similar to teaching what turns of phrase are or to accommodate accents. Furthermore ds is far better than any human being I have ever met at gauging the emotions of those around him.he is uber empathetic.

I think this is a weird form of bullying from the nt to the
autistic autistic community. It's really grating on me. How does it help ds?

OneInEight Sat 17-Sep-16 09:28:58

This would be way down my list of priorities in teaching life skills.

Meloncoley2 Sat 17-Sep-16 10:01:43

How old is DS? Is it a social skills type group? It sounds like something I may be OK with as a consenting adult, for example doing the activity, whatever it is, and then having the opportunity to say how it felt, allowing that everybody's experience will be different.
In fact, used in that way, it can point out to others, that some people have different communication styles and not everyone thinks the same way. I am not sure if I am being clear, but I think I would want to know the actual purpose of the activity, and also the skill of the person facilitating it. Also, I am speaking as an adult, not as a small child.

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