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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Eye Contact & Autism

Something happened over the weekend that brought this subject back to light for me. At the end of the birthday party we attended, each child got to up to spiderman and get a special ring for completing the spidey training. During Parker's turn he woulnd't look at spiderman in the eyes and spiderman asked him too several times. I was about to step in politely but luckily spidey had the spidey sense to move on. I wasn't upset, my gosh, I know first hand how hard it is to hold a conversation or especially disipline when you're not getting eye contact. I never know if things are sinking in sometimes. Being 5ft tall, one of the biggest things my Dad imbedded in me was to make good eye contact, that it showed confidence. It's been explained to me though that quite often people with autism cannot look at you and process what you're saying, it can be one or the other.

So, if you ever get the pleasure of spending some time with a child that has ASD...

Don't force the child to look at you. What I will do is put my hand on their shoulder or hold their hand if it's something especially important I need to make sure they are tuning into. I have also heard Parker's teachers say, look at my face, which I think is an excellent comprimise and start to getting more eye contact as the relationship builds.

Take heart that they are listening. Even if it takes time for them to process.

Understand it's not because they are feeling shameful or trying to be disprespectful.

I know this all may sound silly but I have actually had more then one case of people saying things to Parker. One man in particular waved his hand in front of his face, whistled, and asked if anyone was home. For the record, yes, there is.

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