Thursday, 4 February 2016

16 People With Autism Describe Why Eye Contact Can Be Difficult

Top glasses are clear with eyes visible, the middle are slatted, the bottom are blocked out shades.

For some people on the autism spectrum, making eye contact can be a stressful, distracting and sensory-taxing experience. Far too often, though, outsiders view avoiding eye contact as “rude” or “antisocial,” when this isn’t the case at all.

In an effort to better understand how this experience feels for many on the spectrum, The Mighty web-site asked their readers with autism who find eye contact difficult to share a description of what it’s like.

This is (some of) what they had to say:

3. “It’s just feels yucky.” — Tom Bowes

8. “When I make eye contact, the world around me blocks out. I can only process the immense pain and discomfort that comes to my brain. This pain goes if I look away.” — Lucy Clapham

9. “I find direct eye contact too confrontational, and I don’t handle confrontation well.” — Liz Stanley

10. “It’s sometimes physically painful trying to maintain a constant stare straight into someone else’s eyes. It does not mean I’m not listening or have something against the person talking to me, it’s just an uncontrollable struggle to maintain eye contact.” — Chris Amor

13. “There’s plenty enough for us to concentrate on mid-conversation without the demand to do something which, quite frankly, feels very unnatural to many of us. You can have my eye contact, or you can have my concentration. Choose whichever one you value more.”– Chris Bonnello, from Autistic Not Weird, told The Mighty in an email

14. “It is a very uncomfortable feeling. It feels like a threat, like an invasion. I find it much easier to make some contact with people I am familiar with.” — Deidra Tucker

16. “For me, it just feels unnatural.” — Emilyanne Wachter

Click the glasses image above to view the thoughts of all 16 people.

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