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Eye contact - any advice please!

(10 Posts)
peasmummy Fri 31-Oct-08 13:24:50

Hello

I have not posted on here before but have been reading all the posts and there seems to be lots of amazing mums (and dads) out there and lots of advice! Any help woudl be greatly appreciated!

My DS is 2.1 and has just been referred to the community paed team, SALT and audiology.
He is a very happy little boy most of the time but does not make much attempt to communicate. He is non verbal though he babbles and tries to say words, points rarely and his eye contact is limited in that he will only look at someone for a moment, may be smile and then look away. Unless he is very interested in something he will not look at all. He watches conversations, seems to understand some receptive language (but this seems to be limited/selective). It is so hard to tell sometimes whether he understands and does not want to or whether he does not understand at all. He is happy with other children and his contact with his sister (3.6) varies from watching and laughing with her to ignoring her completely...

Once we have some idea what is going on (ASD/PDD perhaps if something is happening!) I am unsure of how to encourage him to look at us. Any tips would be greatly received. At the moment we go down to his level and gently touch him on the arm and ask him to look which he does sometimes!

He is very affectionate, loves cuddles and being carried!

Sorry this is so long!

Thanks
xxxx

r3dh3d Fri 31-Oct-08 13:38:55

Hello and welcome!

Your DS sounds like a cutie. grin.

Our SALT advice was to reward eye contact but not to force it. Social/communication disorders are pretty varied (ASD or whatever else) but I think sometimes it can be confusing/unpleasant and they are avoiding eye contact for a good reason - so a lot of the more gung-ho methods for making them look at you are no longer advised.

One of the things we were told to do was put ourselves in her line of sight more often - for instance feeding her, we'd have her facing us and hand her the food at about eye level. Which firstly gets her in the habit of looking at us when she wants the thing, but secondly gives more opportunity for accidental eye contact which you can enforce.

Sure someone who knows a bit more will be along in a moment!

kettlechip Fri 31-Oct-08 13:39:40

hi there, ds1 was exactly the same at your son's age, it started at around 2.0 (although his language never really got going and he rarely pointed) and got so bad at around 2.1 that he avoided eye contact totally, screaming if we tried to make him look at us. I gradually got him to make eye contact again by holding objects close to my eyes, and waiting for full eye contact before giving them to him (biscuits, bananas etc!) Eventually it got to be automatic that he'd look at me to request. We also found he was better at bathtime, during tickling sessions, and tried to build on this. Peekaboo games are good in this way.

This went on for about 10 months until one day I decided to cut Robinson's sugar free fruit squash out of his diet - natural eye contact seemed to return that day and has been present for 5 months since. I know it sounds completely bizarre and implausible but I can only think it was the aspartame in the drink that was causing a strange reaction, I've since read that this is actually fairly common.

He has improved in leaps and bounds ever since, and I would now say eye contact is around 80% normal.

r3dh3d Fri 31-Oct-08 13:40:52

sorry, that should be RE-ENFORCE not ENFORCE. blush Important distinction!

peasmummy Fri 31-Oct-08 15:18:30

Hi!

Thank you so much for your ideas. I will definitely start trying them.

We do seem to have some days where he is much better than others and with this in mind I have just taken dairy out his diet completely and he does seem to be much happier for it (though still runs to the microwave if he hears it thinking that his milk is iside, bless him!) Soya milk seems to also have the same effect. He is definitely less communicative when he has had any, will not settle to anything and is quite destructive - throwing things on the floor and shouting. I find it so bizarre what an effect these foods can have on our babies!

kettlechip - I have read that about aspartame too. It makes my DD sick so we do not have any in the house!

xxx

mumgoingcrazy Fri 31-Oct-08 19:19:45

Hi peasmummy, we are in the same boat as you with DD2. Much of the Portage DD2 receives is to encourage eye contact and interaction. She is only 16mo so it may not apply to you, but some of the activities we play are turn taking games eg rolling a ball back and forth. I say ready, steady and when she looks at me I say 'go' and roll it to her. We reward eye contact with something she wants.

We also do Stanley Greenspans 'floortime' technique which has already helped wonders.

We have found recently she has started to study our eyes, like she's seeing them for the first time. When she does this I just smile and look back, I don't go over the top shrieking (which I want to do), as it overloads her but definately steps forward.

I'd say the games that reward eye contact are the way to go. Tap in to what makes your DS tick and use this to your advantage.
Let me know how you get on. xxx

kettlechip Sat 01-Nov-08 11:42:51

Hi peasmummy, if you've noticed a dairy and aspartame intolerance, it might be worth monitoring his gluten and MSG intake too, as they are all very closely linked, and according to research done by the University of Sunderland, can cause autistic like symptoms.

Good luck and keep us posted!

peasmummy Sat 01-Nov-08 20:18:23

Hi there

Thank you once again!

Will definitely try the ball rolling, he loves them ( and wheels and letterboxes!)

Kettlechip - thank you! I have actually been in contact with the University of Sunderland and they are sending me some info so fingers crossed that may be getting closer to helping him! I also saw in one of your posts that you have used Baby Bumblebee and I have been looking into them and was wondering if you could give me any info about the best ones to get etc! I am definitely the mother on a mission at the mo.

Thanks once again everyone
xxx

mumslife Sat 01-Nov-08 21:42:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mabanana Sat 01-Nov-08 22:28:31

Something that really interested me, as the parent of a child with Aspergers, is to realise that eye contact is cultural, not innate. The Japanese think it is rude and often avoid it, and Japanese children are considered cheeky if they look into they eyes of the adult telling them off, instead of looking down. I think seeing it as not meeting an arbitrary cultural norm, instead of as a freaky symptom has helped.

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