While I was out walking yesterday, something occurred to me. There is something to be said about the difficulties of making eye contact, even for the neurotypical person.
For whatever reason, I never made the connection until yesterday, but it’s really not that easy to make eye contact, especially with strangers.
I know that as a parent to three boys on the spectrum, I always encourage my boys to look me in the eyes when talking to me. I only encourage but never require. I also know that there seems to be a push to make people with Autism make eye contact.
Making eye contact is an important part of the diagnostic process as well.
However, I have to say again, from a neurotypical perspective, eye contact isn’t as easy as it sounds.
I realized this while walking at the part for Fit4Autism yesterday afternoon. There are so many people at the park we I’m walking. I literally pass countless people on the walking track.
I noticed that as I’m approaching someone going the opposite direction on the track, they rarely make eye contact with me. I always make it a point to try and at least smile at them. However, to be perfectly honest, even I have a hard time looking people in the eye, especially of I don’t know them.
More often than not, I find myself looking at the ground in front of me, while I’m walking past someone. I make a concerted effort to remember to look people in the eyes and smile, nut it isn’t as easy as it sounds.
So I decided to do a pseudo social experiment. Nothing high quality and this would never hold up in court but here is what I found.
I started forcing myself to look people in the eyes and smile as I walked by them. Not in a creepy way either. Basically, it was just acknowledging their presence and smiling to sorta say hello. More often than not, the smile and eye contact were not returned. Most people focused either straight ahead, straight down or off to the side.
Only a few people would return the eye contact and smile back to me. I was really surprised by that.. Is I realize that I would be considered a stranger but still…..
I guess my whole point is that I wonder if we should be pushing eye contact so hard with our kids on the spectrum.
I’m not Autistic and I don’t really lack confidence but eye contact is still difficult and often times uncomfortable for me. I can’t even imagine what it must be like for a child or adult on the spectrum.
I have heard people with Autism, describe eye contact as even being painful. I can honestly understand where they are coming from and I don’t face the same sensory processing issues as many of those with Autism do.
I just wanted to share this with all of you. Realizing this has really changed my perspective on the eye contact thing, at least as far as my kids go.
I think eye contact is important but in some cases, maybe we push a little to hard.
Do your own little social experiment. Next time you are out and about, see how many people will actually make eye contact with you. You might be surprised by what you find.
I was a real eye opener for me.
**Thanks for reading**
-Lost and Tired
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Posted from WordPress for Android so please forgive any typos as auto-correct and I don’t see eye to eye.