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KinetiK
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08 Jul 2011, 7:33 pm

Hello, I'm a 20 year old male that was recently diagnosed with Asperger's, after being misdiagnosed for years as having a combination of ADD/OCD (it's possible I have some ADD, but looking back my OCD behavior was more stimming than anything). I've gotten good enough at controlling my verbosity and "blending in", I can even crack jokes that everyone will laugh at, but I still have serious problems with eye contact. I get the feeling that my lack of eye contact and gestures signal to people that I am not interested in their friendship, when in fact I really am.

So now to the main question: how do you guys handle situations where you have to look people in the eye? (I'm talking about peers/friends, obviously an interview or something is a whole different code). What percentage of time is good to do it if you want to appear friendly? I sometimes fall into this trap of having the "stiff gaze" that the Wiki article on Asperger's mentions, so I'm thinking maybe 100% isn't too good? What about 80%? Where do you look away, and for how long?

I'm so stunted in this particular area of social interaction because my parents and doctors always thought that I was looking away because I couldn't pay attention (ADD). Really any bit of advice helps.



Sweetleaf
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08 Jul 2011, 7:41 pm

I can only make eye contact every so often if I am talking to someone I know, trying to force it though is just distracting and makes it hard for me to pay attention to the conversation.



wavefreak58
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08 Jul 2011, 8:07 pm

There is a "3 second rule" that floats around the aspie community. Hold eye contact for about 3 seconds. The problem with this is that if I concentrate too much on eye contact I lose track of the conversation.


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littlelily613
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08 Jul 2011, 11:02 pm

I simply don't do eye contact at all. I don't even make eye contact with my parents. My eyes often move around a lot, and never focus on the person I am speaking to. If I am doing a job interview, I force myself to look at the interviewer's mouth or forehead, but if I start becoming to conscious of it, my eyes start moving around again.


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syrella
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09 Jul 2011, 12:46 am

I tend to be more on the "intense" and stare-y side of eye contact and have had to train myself to look away every once in awhile.

That said, I've had cases where I just can't make eye contact at all, or only briefly. Some people seem to have more intensity about them than others and I have trouble if they are staring intently back at me.

Making eye contact is hard because it sometimes causes me to lose my train of thought. When I need to think about my response, I usually look away and return my gaze after I've said what I need to say. Also... I've noticed my eye contact goes down the tube when there is more than one person I'm supposed to be speaking to. I don't know who to look at and I get confused. That might be one reason that I fail at group conversations.

Anyhow... some tips I've heard... look "through" them or slightly above or below their eyes. Some people have luck when they look at mouths and do lip reading. I never had much luck with that as it actually confuses me a lot more. But I guess the key is just trial and error. Figure out what works for you.


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Callista
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09 Jul 2011, 1:55 am

I look past people's heads. It works. They can look at my face, I can avoid getting overloaded by information from their faces. I concentrate on reading people's voices to understand them--denotative word meaning first, then connotation, then rhythm, volume, and pitch. After that I might get a little bit of information from how they move their bodies, though most of that I learned off my cats. Faces are just too quick and subtle to get anything from, and I find them more distracting than useful to look at.


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izzeme
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09 Jul 2011, 3:32 am

i do something simular to that; i also look at a spot close to the side or top of their heads (just over the top of the ear; for example, switching ears every so-often).
due to the fact that most NTs have sup-par periferal vision, it gives off the illusion of eye-contact when they try to make it and at the same time breaks it when they do; all without needing attention and without it making me feel uncomfertable...



Australien
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09 Jul 2011, 4:14 am

When I'm talking and I'm trying to form the sentences a particular way I will often look away at something that gives me little feedback, if I am listening and trying to picture something based on what I hear, I will do the same. If the words are right there ready to spit out or I'm taking the information in totally verbally, I will tend to laserbeam right on the other person's eyes. I haven't been told of any discomfort caused by it.



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09 Jul 2011, 4:37 am

It seems that between 30 - 70 % of the time is ok. If you have eye contact less than 30 %, then the other person may get a feeling that you have something to hide or that you are a liar. More than 70 % can give them a feeling that you are aggressive or you are romantically interested in them.


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Ettina
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09 Jul 2011, 11:03 am

Psychology paper into eye contact - people usually make eye contact for about 3-10 seconds at a time. People make more eye contact when listening than talking, and make less eye contact when discussing personal topics.

Anyway, do you find eye contact uncomfortable, or is it just not automatic for you?



MakaylaTheAspie
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09 Jul 2011, 4:19 pm

I've worked on my eye contact for the past few years, then I met up with a specialist I haven't met before. She wasn't told about my diagnosis, and she had to give a report on my social skills. Apparently I gave "proper amounts of eye contact."


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Artros
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09 Jul 2011, 4:49 pm

I usually either avoid it, focusing on something else (nice when walking or working, when it's acceptable). I do the "focus someplace close" thing as well. I'm trying to work on my eye contact but it's difficult because I don't know exactly how long I should keep it.

My recent solution for serious conversations (job interviews and the like) is to simply mirror the other person. Psychologists think that mirroring another person's non-verbal language is a sign of good chemistry, so I think that might create chemistry. I find it very tiring though.