Teaching Active Listening Skills to Aspergers Kids

Children with Aspergers generally don’t have the innate ability to exchange eye contact or use appropriate facial expressions when interacting with others. This can make them seem odd when interacting with both adults and their peers. Some of the way they interact with others can cause teasing or other behaviors that cause the Aspergers child to feel lonely or left out of the conversations of others. Aspergers children often can tell that something is wrong with their interactions with others, and their self-esteem can suffer as a result.

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  1. My 11 yr old aspie is the same way...only has eye contact with those he's completely confortable with. Don't force him!!! Others will just need to be a little more understanding! Let it go!!!

  2. I say let it go...explain to your neighbors that he cant help it...and if they dont understand tell them to move so someone that wants to understand might want to move in LOL

  3. keep engouraging him and maybe it will happen in due time.I was not always engaged in full eye contact but i am better now with it then before.They have too see the light in your son and support him.My friends supported me when other people,my peers would not.

  4. I agree with Tina. We should never have to apologize for our kids disability. Let them be uncomfortable because our kids live that way!!

  5. I don't think you can "force" him. And more importantly, in some cases, the person is unable to concentrate on what's being said while making eye contact, it's too much sensory stimulation. I would work with your son on having him try to look in the speakers direction, if not in the eyes, explaining why most people expect that. And I would explain to the neighbors (if you have enough of a relationship that it matters) what's going on with your son, that's it's not personal or rudeness, and that perhaps addressing your son by name in the beginning of a greeting to be certain he's even heard them and giving him enough time (more than a typical person) to respond would be helpful.

  6. What about "autism awareness"???? Sheesh, it's plastered everywhere and people still give up so easily with these kids. Force THEM to understand! He'll make eye contact when he's comfortable with it... and that may be never and that is FINE. He has a disorder and he will "hear" them the way that works for him... they need to not judge him as being rude or ignoring them. sorry - soap box. :)

  7. My son makes eye contact when he can and often with me as he's comfortable, I'm his mum. If we are talking about deep or difficult stuff he has to look away and that's fine by me. I've found that now my son is older he's easier with eye contact when necessary, things like this have improved with age/confidence and a growing understanding of what others expect.

  8. I have aspergers, and it's literally painful for me to look in people's eyes. Pppplease do not force him to do so

  9. I guess I am fortunate that my son is able to make eye contact. He just doesn't understand it when we tell him to do things, has little empathy for anyone, etc. I actually had a doctor tell me that he isn't autistic because he does make eye contact. But the rest of the stuff is defintely aspergers.

  10. Kids with ASD have to be taught to look at people.. through speech therapy, social skills training. Research has shown that they don't look at peoples faces because they don't read expressions well... ie. when someone is bored, not interested, annoyed, etc. There are numerous programs online that help kids learn and they will!

  11. Cammie Henderson Burke hit the nail on the head. My 10 year old son has explained to me why he has trouble and though I understand, others don't. I feel it is their problem if they don't understand. He had a teacher get mad at him for not making eye contact even though she knows he has Aspergers Syndrome....that's what I don't understand.

  12. My son has a hard time making eye contact with everyone including his father and I. I tell him everyday to look at me and look into my eyes and he immediately stops what he's doing at looks at me. I then ask him to repeat what I just said and he repeats it. It is the only way I can get him to make eye contact and process what I am saying and it works great. I've also told his teachers and karate teacher to do the same thing and for the most part doesn't need as much prompting to make eye contact and having him repeat something that was just explained to him helps him process it.

  13. I know most people say don't force him, but with our son (16 now and looks everyone in the eyes) we would always pause and say 'look mommy in the eyes' using my two fingers pointing at my eyes as a visual cue and I would do it all the time, eventually he did without the cue. I learned this in a social skills group. The thing is, eye contact is very important and we had to teach him to keep his head up too to pay attention (think about cars backing up he doesn't notice, plowing through elderly and others in stores etc) Its very important to help your child learn to look someone in the eyes, as much as you slowly teach them facial expressions. The biggest help in our son's life was being in a social skills group, not to 'fix' him (he still has social quirks) but to help him understand and navigate. My son would not look at anyone in the eye, now he looks someone straight on, is in honors classes (if you can always keep them in classes with everyone else because they pick up on behaviors around them) and this is a child I was told by school he would never be functional in class. Trust me, when they are young the behaviors are extreme and if you dedicate to take the time, and teach those around him some compassion, he will be fine. Also, explain to neighbors why- have thick skin, not all people are understanding. Sometimes you do have to explain if you spend time with neighbors or family, you can't just expect them to know, but you also don't need to explain him to the world. It is a safety measure for those involved in his life to know it's a condition that causes certain things, not willful behavior.I have found most people understand once they know why he does things. I agree about not forcing eye contact but encouraging it, again it's more use of visual cue and tell him 'look at my eyes', over time he will do it on his own. With Asperger's it's a lot of repetition.

  14. Our son taught himself to look at others foreheads; much less stimulating!
    5 hours ago via mobile · Like

  15. I asked Andrew why he couldn't look me in the eyes when I was talking to him and he said it was too loud and the loudness hurts! Of course this was before we knew he had Aspergers.
    5 hours ago · Like

  16. I've learned the forehead trick as well a long time ago, a teacher actually told me it, (thanks mrs.beetle)

    For those that don't really understand the whole eye contact thing, at least for me it gives me that same feeling you get when you know your about to ride the scariest roller coaster ever, and its better for me just to look in the general direction of the person, then it is to try and withstand that feeling and still concentrate on what that person is saying and avoid the "fight or flight" feeling that'll develop quickly.

    I've had people think i wasn't paying attention to them, I've had people say "I find it hard to trust someone who won't even look you in the face" (That one stung a bit) so I tend to repeat word for word the previous 5 minutes of conversation they've just told me if they do indeed think i'm not paying attention to them.

    It's something they'll adapt to over time, and forcing them to do something like that, when it gives them the heebie-jeebies can only end in disaster and at least for me, just reinforced the fact that looking at peoples eyes is a generally bad idea.

    But i'll tell you right now, If you have a kid with aspergers syndrome....encourage the positive aspects of it like wanting to absorb particular subjects and things, and just don't fret the little things...they really don't matter in the long run. as long as your supportive, a good parent and there for your child, the rest will fall into place i promise and they'll learn to adapt over time to those social awkwardness types of deals.
    4 hours ago · Like

  17. Aspies don't need eye contact to hear people out or retain the whole conversation. My son was allowed to read in one of his classes because he still heard everything and answered correctly every time the teacher called on him.
    If your neighbors feel "ignored" they can test how much he heard or listened by asking him questions, maybe then they'll start understanding that they aren't being ignored :/
    I see it as their problem not the child's.

    But I did, for a while try to teach him to look at people by talking with him and tapping my nose tip when he started to look away, that brought his attention back to my face if not eye contact, but it did increase the amounts of times he makes eye contact when talking with people. It took a long time but now he looks at people at least half the time during a conversation without prompt, but it's more for their insecurities and being offended than his own benefit really
    3 hours ago · Like

  18. I taught myself and my son to look at people's noses or eyebrows. It's hard as an adult when you don't look at people so practicing this now for my son will make a big difference in his adult life.
    about an hour ago via mobile · Like

  19. As a person with aspergers i can tell you that most of you are wrong.
    It is not in an aspergers childs best interest to ignore people they don't know/kids in the same class/people on the same street/neighbourhood, etc) as in ignoring them by not making eye contact. or ignoring everyday conversations. to live in a society, and to have friends to be able to get by in life. you need to adapt. for example when i reached 6-8th grade(swedish), teenagers started to get more mature conversations not just playing around. And that's when eye contact/ and starting conversations with new classmates was really important. though i didn't see the point in this and i was severely bullied by my entire school. because rumors of my strange behaviors and "meltdowns" because people in my eyes were targeting me for no reason. i was just disinterested in their conversations and avoided social interaction & eye contact all together. didn't see the point in it. Today (25years) im really socially awkward, really tense around crowds. and/or small groups.
    "mingling" around with people is like a minefield. i think i would have benefited a lot from learning the importance of social interaction learning specifically WHY it's good to have and what negative influences it may have on my daily life/future social life: people see you as strange,outsider,misfit. You can't change the whole world to fit your child because the world is too big(sorry moms and dads out there! It's unrealistic ;) Your kids will always face new challenges and having the necessary social skills for it is KEY. building up self confidence, and getting them to cut down on solitude time to be more with friends(get them away from computers!) May teach them to see that social interaction has some good things in store even for them..