Eye contact?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Eye contact?
2
Wed, 06-11-2003 - 12:51pm
One thing noticed by all in our IEP meeting yesterday is that Cait is making very little to no eye contact. I have never been big on eye contact objectives because I think joint attention is better. Plus eye contact objectives can often make the eye contact look unnatural, however, what she is doing now looks odd too. I also don't want to force ehr to do something that is very uncomfortable. Plus I think she is one of those who can't think and look at you at the same time.

I do have to say that when she was smaller, eye contact wasn't particularly a trouble spot. She wasn't great at it (more attending related) but she was ok. It has been consistently getting worse over the past couple years.

So what is all your concensus on the eye contact thing. I would like her to at least orient to who she is talking to and appear to make some eye contact. But I don't want it to be an unnatural staring thing either or make her unneccesarily nervous.

Have any of you had success with this short of the old "look at me" staring contest.

Renee

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
In reply to: rbear4
Wed, 06-11-2003 - 3:13pm
Bugsy has just started going to an occupational therapist and she does something called, "check in." Bugsy doesn't have to "stare" at her while she is talking (or he is) but he does have to "check in" with her face. Kind of like giving her a glance so she knows he is listening and he doesn't look like he is ignoring her or being disrespectful. I have my son look at my face, which he does with me but he does it very sporadically with others. And forget it if he is getting some weird vibes from someone, he won't look at them at all. So I like the "check in" term. He is giving the speaker some acknowledgement that he is listening but he doesn't have to stare someone down when it makes him anxious or uncomfortable.

How are these specialists going to reach this objective for Cait?

bless

bugs

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
In reply to: rbear4
Wed, 06-11-2003 - 6:54pm
No eye contact is not good, but then forcing eye contsct isn't good either. I have spoken with several adult Aspies who say they cringe every time they hear someone say "Look at me", even if the person isn't talking to them. But on the other hand, others say they attribute the majority of their inability to maintain basic friendships to the fact that people often feel ignored, insulted, or otherwise neglected because the Aspie failed to make appropriate eye contact on a simi-regular basis.

But there is an in-between called Face Contact. Upon researching adult Aspies who have managed to simmulate appropriate 'eye contact' to an acceptable degree we have found that the overwhelming majority of them started with Face Contact excercises. A lot of them simply did it on their own or with a partner (parent or spouce). My MIL said that when DH was about 7 or 8 it occurred toher that his failure to make eye contact was not due to to lack of attention and that it was actually painful for him. So she and FIL made a pact to back off and try something different. They concentrated on getting him to complete a series of steps, each step bringing him closer and closer to making eye contact in a more natural manner.

The first step was to get him to turn his body towards the person who was speaking to him. He didn't have to look at them, just turn towards them. After this became habbit for him they moved on to the next step, which was looking in the general direction of the speaker. This meant that his face had to be 'facing' the speaker, but again, he did not actually have to look directly at them. This usually gives the Aspie the appearance of listening or considering the words spoken as they usually end up looking at the person's chest or over their shoulder. The next step is actual 'face contact', turning their face towards the face of the speaker. But again, direct eye contact isn't required. They can home-in on the person's chin, cheek, nose, etc. The final step is eye contact. But it is important to note that the partner or trainer must allow the child/student to become somewhat comfortable with the step they are working on before moving on to the next. Once the program is finished it must, of course, be maintained with loving but firm reminders.

The Face Contact theory has shown great success in the majority of people who have used it. Some schools and centers have actual written programs for this, but most cases are 'taught on the fly' by parents, teachers, or in the case of adults, a patient friend or significant other. In a few rare cases some Aspies have done it on their own after hearing it explained to them or reading about it somewhere. DH consciously goes through a maintainance routine once a month (or more if he starts getting complaints that he doesn't seem to be listening).

Anyway, one of the good things about the Face Contact program is that it covers the 5 basic body language postures and allows the Aspie a chance to get used to them all. That way they can learn to to use them all instead of simply staring at people. I know entirely too many Aspies who just stare and it is as awkward as no eye contact at all. Infact, I think it is more awkward since it gives the other person the feeling that they are being scruitinized or that the Aspie is afraid of them. Eventually the Aspie might just drop the eye contact altogether, specially if their peers are constantly saying "Geez! Stop staring at me!".

One additional thing on the subject then I'll shut up. I have heard Aspies complain numerous times that making eye contact seems to personal, to intimant, and to much like an invitation. My friend Browen doesn't make eye contact with women who do not fall into the catagory of 'wife, teacher, or elder' specifically becasue of this (he is married). and my own DH usually doesn't make eye contact with women who can't be classified as 'wife, customer, or elder'. And even then, he is very selective (especially since a customer made a very bold pass at him one time, but THAT'S another thread).

Okay, I'll shut up now. You can put me back in my cage. (grin)

Peace,

Candes

Peace,
Candes