Its difficult making eye contact. I have got a lot better over the years with strategies and practice. But it is never easy. I can normaly look at someone for at least two seconds, then I have to look away, then I’ll look back for another two seconds.
When I make eye contact, It feels like I’m holding my breath under water. My lungs start to ache and throb. I then feel a wave of panic as I realise I need to get back to the surface to get some oxygen. I push my way through the water to the surface and gasp for air. Once the trobbing has subsided, I dive back down and hold my breath until my lungs start hurting again.
Eye contact isn’t the easiest for people on the Autistic spectrum. There have been so many times (I can’t even count how many! Even now I’m an adult!) that people have said to me “Look at me when I’m talking to you!” People think I’m not listening to them when I’m not looking at them. But that is not the case!
When I was little, eye contact wasn’t something I did. It always confused me looking at someones face (and still does today!). There was too much to process. I thought that it was more important to listen than look. I would always get told off by the teachers when I was in primary. They would just think that I was being naughty.
I still get some people who get angry with me because I dont look at them. But I have learnt that there are other ways to let people know that I am listening to them without or making little eye contact. When I’m comunicating to someone I make sure that my body is facing towards them. This shows that you are interested in what the other person is saying. I have also learnt that if I really needed to make eye contact with someone, I can look at the persons forehead. I learnt this from a man who used to support me at school. This trick has been very handy to use, especially now I’m at work. It makes people think that you are looking at them, when your actually not making any eye contact at all! I used this trick at my job interview! This made me look like I was looking at the interviewers but also it made me look more confident! It’s amazing!!
If you know someone with Autism (It could be your child, sibling, friend or college) please be patient with them when it comes to things like eye contact. I promise you that they are listening. They just need a bit more time to take in what you are saying. 🙂