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Understanding Autism: The challenges of eye contact

When discussing the complexities of Autism, many aspects can be challenging to comprehend for those who don’t experience it. One such characteristic is the difficulty many autistic individuals face with eye contact. As an Autistic teacher, I've had my fair share of experiences and reflections on this topic, and I'm here to shed more light on it.


Eye contact can be a perplexing aspect of communication for many autistic individuals. While it's a significant part of non-verbal communication in various cultures, not all autistic people find it comfortable or natural. Some might even find it painfully overwhelming and distracting, hindering their ability to concentrate or process what's being said during a conversation.


Personal Struggles with Eye Contact

Speaking from personal experience, I often grapple with knowing how long to maintain eye contact before looking away. I constantly worry about whether I'm doing it correctly, which can be quite draining because it doesn't come naturally to me and many others.


When I'm engaged in a conversation and trying to maintain eye contact, my mind is abuzz with several thoughts. I wonder if I'm making enough eye contact or if my focus on maintaining it is preventing me from fully processing what the other person is saying. All of these thoughts can make the experience uncomfortable.


Myths about Eye Contact and Autism

There is a common misconception that if an individual makes eye contact, they cannot be autistic. However, this is far from the truth. Despite the discomfort, many autistic people, including myself, mask our feelings and suppress our natural responses to conform to societal norms.


It's important to note that some autistic individuals are genuinely okay with eye contact, while others reserve it for their closest loved ones, as it can feel intensely personal. But this varies widely from person to person.


The Need for Understanding and Accommodation

My plea to everyone is not to demand eye contact from autistic individuals. We're not being rude; we just listen and communicate differently. Understand that just because we aren't making eye contact doesn't mean we're not engaged or listening. In fact, trying to maintain eye contact can make it harder for us to concentrate on what's being said, as our attention is divided.


Supporting the Autism Community

If you've found this insight helpful and would like to support my mission to aid the Autistic community, feel free to buy me a coffee. Please only donate if you can afford to do so. Everything given is very much appreciated. You can also help spread awareness by liking, sharing, and commenting on my posts. Let's together strive to create a more understanding and inclusive society.



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