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Eye Contact, Or Lack Thereof

* I’m still in catching up mode. If you are a loyal follower of this blog, I offer my deepest apologies for not having posted regularly for about 10 weeks. See, about that time, I took on a new adventure of being a full-time substitute for an amazing high school social studies teacher who was on maternity leave. Clearly, some things had to go just to keep up with everything between school, our family, my photography, and my part-time work with our church. There just weren’t enough hours in the day to continue everything, so blog-posting was one that had to go on the back burner. However, I kept writing. It’s one of those things that I find I simply can’t not do. It just happens. So while I wasn’t posting, I was still writing. It’s time now to catch up. Thank you for sticking with me! 🙂 Here’s “Eye Contact, Or Lack Thereof” from July 16, 2015.

IMG_0022EYE CONTACT OR LACK THEREOF

Eye contact is typically one of the more difficult tasks for someone on the autism spectrum to master. Research explains this is likely due to the amount of sensory information presented during interpersonal communications and the body’s need to eliminate some of it. Think about it, when talking with someone, one must listen to what is being said, process it, and think of what to say in response; those are just the basics. Throw in weeding out whatever extra sounds which may be present (other people, radio, television, vehicles, even the lights make noise if you really listen) and filtering through all of the extra things there may be to look at and you have a lot of tasks to complete all at once. Thankfully, this is somewhat easy for most of us, but for the individual on the spectrum, it can sometimes be too much.

I’ve noticed in watching Ben as we communicate, he often looks aside when he is having a genuine conversation, rather than running through the script of something he has seen in movies or heard through a book. Over the years, we’ve encouraged him to look at others when he is talking to them, moreover because it is the expectation, but I’ve learned that finding my eyes isn’t always the most important task at the time. Yes, I love to see my son’s eyes. I spent month after month in his early years waiting to make that connection and trust me, it is a connection, but when we are trying to have a conversation, I think the most important thing may be to let him do what he needs to do to be able to focus on having the conversation.

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