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Gaze Avoidance in Aspergers and HFA Children

I have a student with autism (high functioning) who always appears to be staring off into space. I have asked him to look me in the eye when trying to get his attention - and he will make eye contact for a split second - but then look off again. Is there some way to get through to him and help him focus?

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11 comments:

Anonymous said...

From a young age, kids watch TV. They see "important" people being interviewed, and these people never look at them. Never mind that they're looking at the interviewer, that's not obvious to Aspies or little kids. So they learn that when you have something important to say, you DON'T look at your audience. It's a little thing, but it's another example of how television is changing our culture.

Anonymous said...

Have you looked into avoidant personality disorder? Some people who have thought they may be aspies were later diagnosed with that; it might be a possibility for people who don’t quite fit on the spectrum. Avoidant personality disorder makes people very sensitive to criticism, they avoid people and eye contact because they are so worried what people may be thinking. (Very brief summing up there).

Anonymous said...

I don't know if NTs consider things like this but... I'm more likely to look at people if they're not standing in front of really distracting things. Since I tend to put those things at my back, if I was facing me I'd be less likely to make eye contact.

Anonymous said...

If I dislike the person, esp. if I question the validity of my dislike or am not in a position to fully snub the person. There are people who disturb my psychic airspace; I just can't get comfortable with them, or they send mixed messages, or they seem condescending or make stupid, unfunny jokes or are overly friendly and seem to expect a lot of warmth from me in return.

Anonymous said...

If you make eye contact with people, it encourages them to try to make more eye contact with you. But if you're rarely looking when they try to make eye contact, then the more astute ones will stop trying. A lot of friendly things are like that- if you respond with to what they see as friendliness with the same actions they use, and then they're likely to continue doing those things, but if you don't, then some of them will stop.

Anonymous said...

There are people I can't help disliking, but since they haven't really done anything "wrong," or because I may be in a work situation & unable to walk away, I find I literally cannot look them in the eye. I get agitated; I may feel somewhat trapped, if they are keeping me from what I'm supposed to be doing, or they are demanding more emotional engagement than I can deliver, I withdraw to keep them from getting even more into my face & space.

Anonymous said...

There is some kind of a rule, I don’t fully know the details, but it’s something like - when you talk to someone they look away, and then when they reply to you, you look away, which is supposed to be non-challenging. They don’t constantly eye gaze, but they seem to do it all naturally. I have noticed Judge Judy does something like that. I watch it whenever I can, it’s very interesting, and she has a very good logic.

Anonymous said...

Since reading about AS, I notice a fairly large proportion of people don't make eye contact when speaking to me or other people. Even though I've been observing a non-random group (mostly maths/science sophomore students at my university) they're likely not all aspies. What are other possible causes?

Anonymous said...

If I am working, getting things done on a real or even self-imposed deadline, and people keep breaking into my little work bubble to talk to me, esp. if I feel they are rushing me, I can become FURIOUS. :evil: Likewise, if everyone is talking at me at once, if I have a hectic few minutes and people keep pushing me, the stress builds, and I don't blow up, but I'm sure my agitation shows in my face. Under those circumstances, I will again try to avoid or limit eye contact, again to protect myself against further intrusion.

Anonymous said...

Avoidant personality disorder makes people very sensitive to criticism, they avoid people and eye contact because they are so worried what people may be thinking.

Bulldogma said...

I am a visual learner. In order to process audio stimuli, I often need to focus my eyes on something less stimulating so I can "translate" the words I am hearing into pictures in my mind. If I feel I have to look someone in the eye, I may not absorb a word they are saying. Why? Because a visual learner will first absorb visual stimuli, and we Aspies often can only focus on one thing at a time. If all I am allowed to focus on is "looking at" you, I many not be able to "listen" to you - a skill that does not come as easily to me, and therefore needs all my concentration.
Please don't try to force an Aspie or any other visual learner look at you if you want them to hear you.

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