The truth about eye contact 

I know I’ve said this on more than one occasion, but I do feel the need to say it again. “I have absolutely no idea what the future may hold for my son, and since there is no such thing as a crystal ball, I just have to hold on and hope for the best.” Well, a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to talk to somebody with autism about autism, and the insight that this person was able to give me was nothing short of amazing. I’ve realized that I don’t need a crystal ball to wish for. I just need to talk to somebody who understands and can answer my questions openly and honestly. 

Talk about a wake up call!

A few weeks ago, I was waiting for my phone to be fixed at the mall, and I sat down on a comfy couch and watched the world go by. I heard a voice say to me, “I do this all the time.” I turned around and there was a young man sitting there next to me doing the very same thing. We got to talking and I could tell that something was different about him. When he asked me what I did for a living, I told him that I was an ABA therapist, and he immediately asked me if I make my students have eye contacted me. I told him that I did, and I watched him cringe before my eyes. 

So I asked him if it was alright for me to ask him an honest question… and he agreed. I took my time, took a deep breath, and asked him why eye contact was some uncomfortable for people with autism? And very matter-of-factly, he said, “because it feels like you can see right into my soul!” He continued with, when you look into someone’s eyes, you can pretty much tell everything about them within a few seconds. I don’t want to know about people, so I rarely look at them.”

 He looked right at me when he said that. 

I never in my life thought of it like that. I remember as a child my mom or dad told me that it was always polite to look at people when you speak to them. To not look at them shows disinterest and disrespect. That was an “a-ha” moment for me

And with that he got up and walked away. He said goodbye and wished me luck, but he did not look at me when he said that. 

And there was nothing wrong with that. 

Even in this moment, right now, I’m still shaking my head in awe. I never thought of it like that! This was just one person’s opinion, but it was damn insightful and honest! When I got home that day after work, I looked in the mirror and wondered what my eyes read to him. I didn’t get a negative vibe from that experience, but I’m sure he did; that’s why he felt the need to get up and walk away. 

I really hope I get a chance to talk to this man again, because I have so many more questions for him. I want to know so many things, and to me, not knowing feels worse than… knowing. You know what I mean? I want to know what his hobbies and passions are. I want to know about his childhood and if he has friends that he can count on and rely on. I want to know if he has a job and if he likes his job. There are so many more questions I wanted to ask him, so I really hope that I bump into him again. Maybe I will and maybe I won’t, but one thing is certain. I got an answer to a question that I never knew existed. It made so much sense to me that I just had to share it with all of you. I hope this was helpful. Happy Monday everyone, and have a great day.  

 Thank you Cassie for sending me this great picture. 

4 thoughts on “The truth about eye contact 

  1. Ouch, the accidental trauma! But I’ve been there too. When we first got a diagnosis for my eldest, I was very surprised to see an apparent deficit in eye contact on the report – it was something I had not considered before at all. (That probably tells you a little something about me!) Then I felt like I would be a good mom if I taught him to look at my eyes, which was kind of an ignorant move on my part. Luckily, when he was a little older he was able to tell me that it scared him, and he accepted my apologies. He was also able to explain why he had removed cabinet knobs and thrown them across the room – they looked like eyes. Now it’s gotten to be a bit of a family joke. If things are getting tense and I start to feel ignored when I interact with the kids, I ask if they are paying attention. They will come right up to my face and stare without blinking in a very uncomfortable way and comment on how they are looking directly in my eyes. Cracks me up every time! (And it gets us on track with something a little more positive.)

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