Using eye contact is an important nonverbal communication behavior that most of us use automatically in social interactions. However, as you describe, making eye contact with others can be very challenging for some people with autism – adults as well as children.
Should we force eye contact?
So should we insist on eye contact with those who find it uncomfortable? As with many complex questions, the best answer is probably “it depends.”
First and foremost, we encourage you to begin by exploring what the issue means for your son. How does making eye contact affect your son? Does it help him pay attention to the conversation or make it more difficult?
Alternative ways to indicate interest
It may be that eye contact is so stressful for your son that he pays less attention when you ask for it. In this case, it’s appropriate to look for alternative ways for your son to indicate to others that he is interested and paying attention to them.
For example, you might explain the importance of indicating his interest in some nonverbal way and then offer some of these options:
* Suggest that your son show his interest by fully facing the person and staying within a conversational distance. This includes working on any tendency to wander away in the middle of a conversation
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