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can you have ASD and have NT eye contact?

(27 Posts)
MumOfThreeMonkeys Thu 11-Jun-09 19:09:36

my DD 5 is being assessed for ASD she ticks all the boxes apart from her really good eye contact, is this unusual in ASD kids?

Peachy Thu 11-Jun-09 19:19:42


mrssaintlydameturnip is the one to chat to on this as her ds1 can do decent eye contact yet is very severely asd

My ds3 can do it at times, depends on when you get him really. It caused us dx issues for a while, until they did a computer assessment trial on him where it was very clearly not relevant- it's more of a manifestatio0n that a symptom IYGWIM

have a look at the triad of impairments on the website of the national autistic society. That's the criteria for AS, add in speech delays and you get HFA, a low (clinically) low IQ and it's autism

bubblagirl Thu 11-Jun-09 19:21:46

i think some things can vary such as eye contact my ds has great eye contact now but never used to and can fluctuate with different people if ill he will not hold eye contact and if asking him question he may avert his eyes away

but if talking to you he holds eye contact its hard to say my ds does have dx of HFA was dx at 3 and was noticed to have poor eye contact then he is 4 now and really has improved loads

so im unsure if other children with ASD have good eye contact or not

asdx2 Thu 11-Jun-09 19:22:14

I have two with autism and they both have very good eye contact. I would say 90% of the time it's spot on.
At Jack's diagnosis of moderate autism at three paed did comment that he had surprisingly good eye contact considering the level of his difficulties.
Even now both don't find it difficult even with people they don't know although getting them to speak is another matter

SunisShinin Thu 11-Jun-09 19:26:42

Not an expert but didn't want to leave it unanswered. My ds1 is also being assesed - age 4. lack of eye contact is only one of many traits - but tends to be the one mentioned as its is easily noticed. Also children, esp those with higher intelligence can learnn to make eye contact even if it doesn't come naturally to them. Also sometimes people with ASD can make inappropriate eye contact - like too much.

MumOfThreeMonkeys Thu 11-Jun-09 19:38:36

thanx for answering everyone

my dd makes inappropriate eye contact- like gets into peoples faces, also she does not shut up like "hello" "hello" "hello" to anyone and everyone. she has major sensory problems particulary sound, hates being touched and never has been affectionate. also fine and gross motor skills are very delayed she cant count to 3 at age 5 but can tell you what tv channel every kids programme is on even thou she wont watch tv. she has been assesessed by ed physc and were told that she has severe learning difficultys, HV, SW, OT and pead are all now saying autism just this week! i thought that a while back but dissmissed it because she is so chatty and good eye contact- her speach is good but nothing she says is relivent and she repeats herself all the time- does this sound like ASD?

Peachy Thu 11-Jun-09 19:41:37

It does, althogh only a PAed can diagnose.

DS1 has speech anomalies but at 6 had a speech age of 16 - 21; speech is only part of certain types of spectrum disorder. DS3 in contrast has severely delayed speech with additionalphysiological problems. Both boys are incredibly different, and both very definitely spectrum.

Ds1 rarely chooses to speak in school now mind, beyond certain limited words that include cheesy, no way hose and a noise akin to yeahyeah

Do look at the triad, it really does clarify things

MumOfThreeMonkeys Thu 11-Jun-09 19:50:43

thanx a million peachy, off to look now, dd is gonna be assesed and was told that it should be complete in the next 9 weeks- it will be good to get a dx and then we can move on, at the minute it feels like were in limbo and not fitting in anywhere IYKWIM

Peachy Thu 11-Jun-09 19:56:58

Do remeber that a dx is a shock, ofetn a big one. Allow yoursl;ef lots of time and space to deal with it. I knew about ds3 for years, and it was still like a body blow, even the second time for us (ds1 is also ASD).

Consider attending a Help course (email the NAS) after dx as thats a great way to get focussed I think, a transition aid if you will

MumOfThreeMonkeys Thu 11-Jun-09 20:07:03

thanks for the advice, im like 95% sure she has ASD and i know getting those word will be a shock because of the doubting 5%, just a matter of waiting- SN seems to be just one big waiting game, for the dx , for the statement for the dla.... just want to start living and enjoying my family again!

bubblagirl Fri 12-Jun-09 07:57:17

mumofthreemonkeys it is a horrible wait and a huge shock even if you do know as your twoing and throwing in your mind for so long but it was a relief when we found out ds had ASD as we finally had answers we no longer felt we had to make him act normal iykwim without a dx you feel they should act like other children

but you can see if you have a sn group in your area they hold holiday sessions for school children this could be good for you and dd gives lots of advise for you and also run courses and you can meet other parent in rl going through the same as you

saintlydamemrsturnip Fri 12-Jun-09 08:41:57

Good luck. As peachy said my son is severely autistic (non-verbal aged 10) and can have very good eye contact, especially when he's using it as a tool to communicate what we wants- then it can very normal indeed. In a testing situation or when he's being instructed you notice the difference as he uses lack of eye contact as a way of avoiding demands.

othermother Fri 12-Jun-09 09:42:49

Funnilly enough, me and dh were talking about this last night. We were saying that our ds "appears" to have good eye contact, but how do we know he is actually looking into someone's eyes? I hardly ever make eye contact, and neither does my dh...instead we both tend to look at someone's mouth when they are talking. It's very hard to tell though. It's something I've always done, and yet until last night, I didn't realise that my dh avoided eye contact too, and we've been together for over 15 years!

sphil Fri 12-Jun-09 10:47:12

My DS2 is exactly like MrsT's in his use of eye contact. He has SLDs and I think probably severe autism, though no-one's ever said where he is on the spectrum!

Good eye contact is a great 'tool' though - has made it much easier for us to engage DS2 in games and teach him things stuff like imitation.

Peachy Fri 12-Jun-09 12:21:52

The diofference betwen ds3 when he has eye contact and when not is everything; lack of means he is unreachable. He isn't in a set palce on the spectrum, at times he is severe and locked in, at others very HFA. Eye contact seems, for him, to be the easiest way of asessing immediately where he is sitting.

This morning he got up, made eye contact and actually sat and talked to me for a while! I have no idea what he was saying (physiocal scarring means his language is ahrd to udnerstand on top of the ASD) except that it was something about how the SNU pick up is a mottor car but our car isn't (?- he got me to repeat that alst bit so it must ahve been important). LAst night however he stimmed, had absences and barely spoke with no eye contact.

sphil Fri 12-Jun-09 12:54:32

That is really interesting Peachy - DS2 is more engaged and focussed at times than others, but never to that extreme an extent.
Can you trace the differences to any external factors?

magso Fri 12-Jun-09 13:08:24

My son too makes good eye contact - uncomfortably good - when he wants that persons attention or help. His eye contact is very much on his terms and he will avoid eye contact when he wishes to avoid hearing a request! Ds has autism with mod/sev LD, but his autism was not diagnosed when he was 3 because he made good eye contact with the dr! (He does if they are new and interesting and this one had a very interesting reflex hammer he wanted and eventually swiped - but completely ignores others!)

Peachy we have moments like that when ds will chat and seems wonderfully alert and thoughtful! I just wish I knew how to 'switch on' - it is usually after a hard day out on the hills!

MumOfThreeMonkeys Fri 12-Jun-09 14:54:10

all your replies are so helpful, one minute i feel like dd is NT then the next im thinking omg can this get any worse! doesnt help when people that dont spend any time with her tell me there's nothing wrong with her- then im thinking omg i am a crazy mother that wants my child to have a problem and maybe im blowing this out of porportion

magso Fri 12-Jun-09 15:12:40

I think lots of us feel this way Mumof3monkeys pre-diagnosis - and even post aswell.

MumOfThreeMonkeys Fri 12-Jun-09 15:22:56

glad to know its not just me- sometimes so stressed out lately, even starting smoking again after been off them for 5 yrs! blush

Peachy Fri 12-Jun-09 17:43:11

Sphil diet and stress I think, sytress being subtle things like school pick up being late or non uniform: unchangeable things often.

I do find if I allow some coputer time (he is obsessed) when he gets home it helps his engagement a bit, as if he needs that defined boudary.

the absences are odd, but I think his mouth injury was accrued in a drop attack- I just can't prove it. paed won't check for epilepsy as she says alla sd kids have them, but you could clap your hands in front of him, slap him ( I dont obv LOL) and he wont come out.

MO3M we all feel as if people think its us, or wonder if it really is (well many of us do) I think. And eople can be dense- school clearly can't think I'm terrible as they allow me to volunteer each weeka lone with the children, yet the form for referarl to the Psychosis team(!) still ahs aprenting classes ticked hmm

amberflower Fri 12-Jun-09 19:42:47

My nearly 5 year old DS has been verbally diagnosed with mild ASD but his eye contact has always been very good; he is also very affectionate both verbally and physically and bar a slight query over receptive language his speech is excellent. Since his DX I've probably been watching him a little too obsessively to try and pinpoint differences -and he definitely does struggle a bit socially at school - but I don't think you'd pick him out as being any different to an NT child if you were a casual observer. The times he avoids eye contact could also be explained by general shyness and lack of confidence.

So for example he tends to avoid eye contact when meeting someone new, if he is being told off, or if he is struggling to do his homework - that's the classic time he will avoid eye contact and try to wriggle away. There are also times when he doesn't initiate eye contact but will meet someone's gaze once prompted...yesterday we were in a shop buying a present for DH's birthday, and the assistant was absolutely lovely to DS and gave him a free little transformer-type toy as we were paying for the gift. DS said 'thank you' straight away, but very quietly and didn't make eye contact. I then said, 'look at the man and use a nice big voice, DS, so that he can hear you'. Whereupon DS looked up, made perfect eye contact and said 'thank you' again in an audible voice. Shy NT behaviour? Classic mild ASD behaviour? No idea. The more I try and analyse the more confused I get....blush. In fact I could go mad constantly watching the poor child so now I'm trying not to!

MO3M I completely sympathise with the stressing out stuff...I am pregnant at the moment and had been doing really well at cutting out my beloved diet cokes in bid to keep caffeine down. Avoided it completely until 14 weeks then allowed myself 2 a week. Was really proud of myself. But since DS's DX came through about a month ago it has been more like 2 a day sad so much for my good intentions!

You are not a crazy mother BTW, you are a great mother trying to get the best support for your child...

Peachy Fri 12-Jun-09 20:31:39

Amber I don't think you can analyse specific behaviours, it'show it rpesents as the apckage and triad of impairments. Many, many opeople have traits without the whole package anyone.

Today I met a lad aged 13 with AS at school who does talks and has written a book (no idea what about, he told me today). He sahres a dx with ds1 but they were worlds apart- whereas ds1 might stare you in the eye and mumble, this kid had no eye contact but spoke wonderfull clearly and confidently.

The meeting was suposed to encourage my afithn in ds1's ms future, it didn't, this boy was non challenging AS: another thing entirely to violent as.

Ssphil we ahve paid for the contact today with a rare and humungous metdown tonight from ds3, c'est la vie!

daisy5678 Fri 12-Jun-09 20:56:45

J (7, HFA and ADHD) has excellent (if slightly intense) eye contact on his terms - e.g. if he wants something or is asking something. If anyone talks to him, he doesn't make eye contact at all because it's not interesting to him - the rest of us are all irrelevant annoyances that are trying to make him live in our world instead of his, apparently! (exact words: everyone's boring and annoying and in my world, none of you are there and I can do what I want. Everyone tries to trick me into their world but it's weird and I won't be tricked because I'm too clever for all of you hmm sad )

Also, like Saintlydame says, J avoids eye contact when he's trying to avoid demands - a way of blocking us all out, I guess.

Deeeja Fri 12-Jun-09 21:37:12

My 6 year old hfa, also avoids eye contact unless he really wants something and then is very intense. He makes no eye contact with his teachers, and goes to extreme lengths to avoid people. He calls people who try to make him join their world 'the interrupters' and has even compiled a list of worst offenders. He doesn't care about having friends, but will talk to people who share his very narrow interests.
My 4 year old is more low functioning, but can appear to be looking at people occasionally, but more if they are wearing shiny jewellery which is holding his attention, he can make eye-contact but not always for social reasons but because you have something he wants. He is much more affectionate than my 6 year old and sort of leans in towards me and dh if he wants a hug.
My 2.9 year old has asd and his eye contact is similar to 6 year old's, he shows no interest in other children, he will often sit with his back to all people. He is probaly hfa, his speech is repetitive and delayed.

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