Monday, April 6, 2015

E is for Eye Contact






On day 5 of the A - Z Challenge, E is for Eye Contact




Many autistic children have a problem making eye contact.  David never really had an issue with it but Michael does not easily make eye-contact when someone speaks to him.  To this day, my husband and I will remind him sometimes to look at someone when they are talking.

I remember reading an article written by an adult with autism addressing how he described making eye contact as physically painful.  I don't think it's that way for Michael, but I know it takes a conscious effort to do it.  

When Michael was in a self-contained autism pre-school, one of the things they worked on was eye contact.  The children would look at their teacher and say 'good morning' or 'hi' or 'hello'.  They would try to maintain eye contact until teacher responded 'good morning' or 'hi' or 'hello' back. 

One morning I was at the post office and an elderly man was putting a letter in the box inside.  Michael saw him, walked up to him and said 'hi'.  I was so proud of him, he was only 4 at the time.  The man barely looked at him and began walking away.  Michael said 'hi' again.  Again, no response.  He said 'hi' again and I rushed over to pull Michael back.  I have to admited I was very irritated that the man could not even be bothered to say hi back to a 4 year old, but I was encouraged to see Michael initiate this simple contact with a stranger.

Again, it's baby steps.  Michael used to keep his head down when speaking, but now, for the most part, he will look at a person when speaking.  There is the occasional slip but we've come a long way with this issue.

10 comments:

  1. I love the photos of the eyes. Eye contact is so important.I can't believe that man who wouldn't give Michael the time of day. Good for him being persistent! He was going to work on what he learned no matter what.

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    1. Thanks Lauren - yes, I couldn't believe it either, but it was encouraging to see Michael apply what he was learning! xoxo

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  2. You certainly have your hands full! I know that autistic children often have trouble making eye contact, but I never heard somone say it was "physically painful"! How sad. Sounds like you are and have done a wonderful job. For a four year old autistic child to initiate a greeting, that is marvelous! I too am so sorry the man didn't communicate back. I wonder if he was just discounting the child, or perhaps he might have been deaf? Wishing your family well.

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    1. Hi Helen, yes it was very encouraging and no, he wasn't deaf. He had spoken with the postal clerk. I don't know why someone would just ignore a small child, but oh well. Wishing you well too, I have been following your blog!

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  3. God bless you. My wife works with the elderly and they have problems they need help working through just like young people.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by Stephen. God bless your wife for the work she does. It takes a lot of patience dealing with children AND adults that have issues and need help. xoxo

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  4. I've heard that autistic people are just way more sensitive to all kinds of stimuli that other people don't even notice, so it makes navigating in the world much more challenging. Maui Jungalow Keep going Judi!

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    1. It's funny Courtney, there is such a range where something that bothers or affects one, doesn't another. Thanks for stopping by!! xoxo

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  5. When my daughter was young, I was constantly surprised at how frequently she was ignored by adults. I'm not saying that it was the norm--just that I was startled by it several times. So incredibly rude.

    The eye contact thing is tough because we put such high store by it in Western culture. Great photos, by the way.

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    1. Hi Kern - I don't understand how adults can just ignore small children. I don't see it happen too often which is a good thing, but I absolutely agree it is startling when you see it. I struggle with eye contact at times, but I notice how much more difficult it is for some autistic children. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! xoxo

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