Should ASD kids be taught to look others in the eye?

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Should ASD kids be taught to look others in the eye?
Poll ended at 30 Jun 2009, 1:45 pm
Absolutely, they gotta learn! 8%  8%  [ 2 ]
Not if too stressful... 67%  67%  [ 16 ]
Just leave the poor dears alone! 25%  25%  [ 6 ]
Total votes : 24

Kaleido
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01 Jul 2009, 3:49 am

nansnick wrote:
If i'm looking at you IM LOOKING AT YOU. All focus. Rather than listen to you, which is done with the ears and not the eyes, which is probably just me as an AS taking things literally.


Indeed, I can look at eye colour, wrinkles, nose shape and those kinds of things but don't expect me to be able to hear the person and process a sensible reply as well. Seems obvious to me.



0_equals_true
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01 Jul 2009, 9:07 am

No but mainly because the rule about maintaining eye contact thing is actually a myth. If you teach ASD people to maintain eye contact they are going to come across as threatening, or startled.

It is equally important to look always as it is to look to acknowledge speak and presence by looking. So in reality you would never really look directly in their eyes more then a second at a time.

There are some people on the spectrum who naturally look people in the eyes too much.

I did have eye contact exercises. One thing to note is that me and others on the spectrum reported that direct eye contact hurt and or was physically difficult. It is not the same as shyness. The eye contact exercises I did, worked on this premise, and was a gradual process. Before, when close to someone, if I would try to look someone in the eye my eyes would instantly just to the side. It is a reaction that you can't do consciously. It is almost exactly the same as if someone is shining a bright light into you eyes.



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01 Jul 2009, 11:21 am

0_equals_true wrote:
I did have eye contact exercises. One thing to note is that me and others on the spectrum reported that direct eye contact hurt and or was physically difficult. It is not the same as shyness. The eye contact exercises I did, worked on this premise, and was a gradual process. Before, when close to someone, if I would try to look someone in the eye my eyes would instantly just to the side. It is a reaction that you can't do consciously. It is almost exactly the same as if someone is shining a bright light into you eyes.


Kaleido wrote:
Indeed, I can look at eye colour, wrinkles, nose shape and those kinds of things but don't expect me to be able to hear the person and process a sensible reply as well. Seems obvious to me.


0_equals_true, did your exercises help you to listen while you brave the 'bright shining light' of the speaker's eyes?

What did the exercises entail?

Mostly I hear parents, aids, and teachers firmly instructing "look at me" while gesturing with two fingers at their own eyes.


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makuranososhi
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01 Jul 2009, 12:03 pm

computerlove wrote:
Don't make him do it... if you want the kid to have a miserable life.

If should be FORCED on any age, not just kids. Aspies need to be taught to look into people's eyes, and they also need to have classes where you are forced to socialize
and learn about teamwork,
learn how to relate to other people
and learn entitlement,
and have self-confidence,
to have a chance to make it in life.


Completely disagree; forcing people into things builds resentment and aversion. Looking at people's eyes was uncomfortable... I eventually learned and decided to make that change - the eyes were easier than looking at their faces. But not everyone is a round peg for a round hole. Learn how to function as oneself, not as someone else decides is correct.


M.


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0_equals_true
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01 Jul 2009, 4:08 pm

JanetFAP wrote:
0_equals_true, did your exercises help you to listen while you brave the 'bright shining light' of the speaker's eyes?


Not really, that is why you don't want to look too long. In order to communicate you are listening you want to turn you head slightly to the side to expose an ear. Eye contact is basically for the initial acknowledgement and to show you aren't day dreaming.

JanetFAP wrote:
What did the exercises entail?


Can't remember the exact order, but did it gradually over several weeks. Something like:
  1. Shrink sitting side on to me with sun glasses
    1. She has eyes closed, I turn to look she opens eyes (repeat)
    2. She has eyes open, mine are closed, I turn to look and open eyes (repeat)
  2. Same as 1 without the sunglasses
  3. Same as 2 but more front on and slightly nearer
  4. On the floor cross-legged and very close up (either one can start of with head tilting down or to the side)
4 is the hardest then you gradually build up how long you look. It is at your own pace you can turn away when ever you want.

I wouldn't say my eye contact is perfect but I have enough to get by. But depending on the eyes, or stress I can struggle.

What I talked about is general use. There are some situations where you need more eye contact. I do martial arts and I am constant told to look at my opponent. It is true it is affect you posture and performance, but at the same time it can be awkward and hard to concentrate. I think I need to look at their heads but not directly in the eyes. A training partner I have I think may be an autie with learning difficulties, but he will look at you so much he forger to blink and has to rub his eyes.

JanetFAP wrote:
Mostly I hear parents, aids, and teachers firmly instructing "look at me" while gesturing with two fingers at their own eyes.

That is probably because consciously they feel there is not enough eye contact because they haven't received the non verbal communication they are used to.



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01 Jul 2009, 5:12 pm

0_equals_true wrote:
Can't remember the exact order, but did it gradually over several weeks. Something like:

Shrink sitting side on to me with sun glasses
She has eyes closed, I turn to look she opens eyes (repeat)
She has eyes open, mine are closed, I turn to look and open eyes (repeat)
Same as 1 without the sunglasses
Same as 2 but more front on and slightly nearer
On the floor cross-legged and very close up (either one can start of with head tilting down or to the side)
4 is the hardest then you gradually build up how long you look. It is at your own pace you can turn away when ever you want.


Thanks, 0_equals_true!

Do you think that b/c NTs pick up on NVC (such as eye contact) intuitively, they often do not analyse it. Maybe NT that have not analysed it are probably the worst choice to teach it because they are clueless and without empathy.

I remembered reading something about good eye contact being more one of timing than amount of time, so I just googled it to see if it was as sensible as I remembered. I found the following on WP. Apparently gsilver read the same book back in 2006:
gsilver wrote:
Times to use eye contact:
End of an important sentence (to add emphasis)
End of a question (to request feedback)
During the entire time of asking a rhetorical question (to ensure proper delivery of the question)
At key points in the other person's speech (such as when they are delivering or requesting important information)

Since I am rather good at written communication, thinking of eye contact as punctuation makes the whole concept much easier to grasp. I would suggest that everyone here begins thinking of it in the same way to help them in communication.

In reality, you don't need to use much eye contact, just specific times. To further demonstrate this, I was also surprised at how little eye contact the average NT uses... but general rules (and effective ones, at that) can be derived by observing when NTs initiate eye contact.

I would add at greeting and esp at farewell (like during the handshake, if there is one)

0_equals_true wrote:
What I talked about is general use. There are some situations where you need more eye contact. I do martial arts and I am constant told to look at my opponent.

Speaking as a 2nd degree black belt, I would admend that advice to watch your opponant. You have to catch any advertisement of kick or punch, and eye gaze is only one indicator.


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02 Jul 2009, 9:26 am

Only if they're taught in a proper and controlled way.

My mother told me before a school week-long field-trip that I should always look people in the eye. I took her at her word and the next I heard people calling me weird, because I was always staring at them.

To compensate I then decided I had to stare at a distance object to avoid looking at people. Except, staring at distant objects all the time is also considered weird.

So, in the end I went through years of hell, not knowing how to look at people. I mean, what a situation - you can't look at anybody, but you can't not look at anybody :roll: In the end, I self-taught myself with books how to look at people, the timing, where you should rest your eyes etc.

On a daily basis, I probably still don't look at people the "correct" length of time, but at least I can turn it on when it matters (say at an interview for a job).



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02 Jul 2009, 6:00 pm

Kaleido wrote:
nansnick wrote:
If i'm looking at you IM LOOKING AT YOU. All focus. Rather than listen to you, which is done with the ears and not the eyes, which is probably just me as an AS taking things literally.


Indeed, I can look at eye colour, wrinkles, nose shape and those kinds of things but don't expect me to be able to hear the person and process a sensible reply as well. Seems obvious to me.


It's definitely one or the other. If I'm going to listen to the person they are just going to have to put up with me not looking at them. I do try though. Usually my eyes aren't looking at anything when I'm actually listening. There are different studies that have shown (like studies were needed) that the direction our eyes are pointing correspond to what part of our brain is being accessed and used. I always associated my wondering eyes during conversation as an extension of my thought process. It's a good thing, If I'm looking all over and into space there's a greater chance I'm listening to the person.

Sometimes the shape of their nose or the left-hand side part in their hair though feels more satisfying that what they are talking about and I get distracted. I guess some people have the peripheral ability to look directly at someone, listen and take in their appearance. This is most likely the AS tendency to be interested in what there interested in and everything else is irrelevant. Can't the talker focus?! :P


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02 Jul 2009, 6:43 pm

I do think it should be "taught" as in, for the child to understand that NT may feel otherly than he/she about this issue. I don't think it does anything but damage to force anything in parenting, unless it is an absoloute safety/ health issue. This isn't, by far. It is a request in this house, for the children who are better focused by looking at my eyes. I have often said "where are my eyes?" to a toddler to get attention. That said, when my aspies are on sensory overload, in public, or other times, I can tell that looking at me is only going to further hinder them from hearing a single word I say. Sometimes after multiple attempts to break through my 12yro thoughts, I'll just write instructions on the white board or on an index card. He reads them aloud, shoots me a milisecond eye lock, gives the half nod and goes to! It is all about doing what works for the child, not just the rest of the world IMHO.



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02 Jul 2009, 11:43 pm

makuranososhi wrote:
computerlove wrote:
Don't make him do it... if you want the kid to have a miserable life.

If should be FORCED on any age, not just kids. Aspies need to be taught to look into people's eyes, and they also need to have classes where you are forced to socialize
and learn about teamwork,
learn how to relate to other people
and learn entitlement,
and have self-confidence,
to have a chance to make it in life.


Completely disagree; forcing people into things builds resentment and aversion. Looking at people's eyes was uncomfortable... I eventually learned and decided to make that change - the eyes were easier than looking at their faces. But not everyone is a round peg for a round hole. Learn how to function as oneself, not as someone else decides is correct.


M.


So basically you are saying that it's ok, all in the name of "don't let the person feel uncomfortable?" and that you prefer to see a population of aspies that can't hold a job, or even worse, have to live on goverment support, charity or be homeless? Oh, and let's not forget that in some countries like mine there's no government support for the unemployed.
Unfortunately the forum has plenty of stories about all of the above mentioned, people who have lots of difficulties even getting a f***ing interview. And on the other side you have this person, very capable, with plenty of knowledge, that when in a interview will be seen as not good enough for the job, just because he avoided eye contact or doesn't know how to chit chat.
All in the name of "let's not help him to be better, it's better the way it is".

And then you'll say "but being aspies has worked for some people like X and Y", and yes, I agree, but that's the exception, rare cases, not the majority as one would expect.


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03 Jul 2009, 1:14 am

When I was a kid, my parents and teachers brought up how I wasn't looking up or at people. No one including my parent even knew I had aspergers. So I worked on it more when I got into theater and acting classes.

I wasn't forced or anything. In fact, I gradually grew comfortable with it...yet it was something I had to remind myself to do. Now I've gotten to where it comes naturally like a reaction...although I do tend to look and then look away whenever someone smiles at me due to nervousness.

Anyway, my aspergers was never known. Most people didn't regard my quirks as disabilites but rather eccentricities....or as most of my teachers put it, I had a different way of dealing with things.


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03 Jul 2009, 11:11 am

so who decides the stress level??? i vote no. leave us alone.

nansnick wrote:
The main reason eye contact drives me crazy is the whole AS focus issue. If i'm looking at you IM LOOKING AT YOU. All focus. Rather than listen to you, which is done with the ears and not the eyes, which is probably just me as an AS taking things literally.


yes! good point.

i have the same problem with hearing and listening too.



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03 Jul 2009, 2:18 pm

theOtherSide wrote:
so who decides the stress level???


The person themselves. Yes, a person can be taught to make decisions for themselves and not follow rote rules. A person can be taught about eye contact and it's importants and how to use it, and also taught to figure out what's right for them in each given situation.



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12 Jul 2009, 4:13 am

definitely no. There are even NT's who find this uncomfortable. A for me it creates an overload. Eyecontact is overrated :) :lol:


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Core
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12 Jul 2009, 6:02 am

Absolutely NOT!

Let me clarify, few people want to even look themselves in the eyes, just try it in a mirror up close and you'll feel something very odd when you lock eyes, perhaps that may intrigue kids though, but there's a MUCH better method i'll impart to you'all. And it works great in job interviews!!

Note: If you're a Manager or Boss do not read further! (Give our kids a chance rather than intimidating them).

The wonderful thing about talking with people is the feeling of eye to face contact without any stresses at all, and i really mean that.

As an aspy i've sweated tons till i invented this trick to feel at home looking anyone "in the eyes" while talking or listening with them.

The truth is people do not feel comfortable being looked at in the eyes, but few people actually are looking in someone's eyes when they think they are, problem is they think they are and probably are not, it is an illusion.

I'll say it as it is, ask someone to relax and look you in the eyes, now watch this happen, you will notice that they most often look above your eye level, you'll feel this at the brow, if you ask them they'll say they're looking you in the eyes(!). And if you ask them if they're confortable doing this they may actually tell you they are not so confortable doing this, and this is because they feel you're looking at them in the eyes.

So the way to shift this around is simple, i teach kids and young adults to actually pick a point slightly below the eye level, often on the bridge of the nose, to look at, then i tell them to go up or down till i feel that they're looking me in the eyes directly, it is easy to know when they are, it's piercing if they're focusing. When they are i tell them that that is the spot, and boy are they surprised! I ask them if they could comfortably look there all day and they say they could!

I know this works very well, it has helped me listen to people while giving them the perception of ease and attention they deserve, and i cannot understate how very useful this has been in job application meetings.

One last note, since a you may want to shift the stress to the person trying to stare you down or intimidate you, just look at a point that practice has shown to be a good resting point and move up or down till you get a pupil dilation reaction from them, that is the exact point where they "feel" you are looking them in the eyes, fix your focus there and they'll back down or look away! Since you do not feel this same reaction you can stay there all day relaxed or till they give up.

Mostly what "interrogators" think are "lying eyes" are a normal intimidated person's reaction to people trying to "read" their eyes during a false interrogation. Even animals shy away from a strong and direct focus, it is normally intimidating even in a mirror.

Since you now know a 100% better working way to help anyone give attention in conversation, teach them, but don't tell the wrong people or they'll just find a different way to intimidate others.

Cor'e =)



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13 Jul 2009, 3:49 pm

I voted "not if too stressful". To me, eye contact is soul-searing, like trying to peer into a person's true self and seeing that person's vulnerabilities, and he sees into your own. I would only do it voluntarily with somebody I trust and love completely, or somebody I intentionally want to stare down in a more-or-less threatening way, and nothing in between... kind of like how a dog will avoid eye contact with his master but will stare down threats.

I think it's important for parents to teach their children social skills, and eye contact falls under that category, but they should be taught that they are exactly that, social skills, and not that such social skills are "right." Teaching that social skills are "right" only leads to the children hating themselves, because what is "right" is not natural to them. Children should learn that social skills are like work skills, and once they leave the house they should put their game face on with people who expect them to do so. However they should be free to relax that game face when around people who don't expect them to maintain that facade. They should also be free to put away that face at home when they need an energy recharge, just like one goes home and de-stresses after a long day at work. It's important to teach the skills early, as the usage of those skills becomes seamless only with time and lots of practice.

In time they will learn that social skills have some benefits, but with drawbacks in that energy is required to maintain them and it's up to the individual to decide how much energy he or she wants to invest in a particular social skill. If people think that maintaining the social skill is "right" then the child will grow up repressing himself, leading to all sorts of mental and emotional health issues later on as his energy is entirely consumed by maintaining that facade. Nobody needs that baggage!


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