One clue that a child may have autism is that she does not make eye contact with others. This feature appears in the first six months of life, leading some researchers to consider differences in gaze pattern a potential early marker for autism.
One theory holds that people with autism perceive eye contact during social interactions as unimportant: In other words, they are indifferent to it. Alternatively, they may avoid eye contact because it is uncomfortable or aversive.
Many autism therapies encourage children and adults to make eye contact. To determine whether this is the right approach, it is important to understand whether clinicians are teaching people with autism to pay attention to something that doesn’t interest them or forcing them to do something that makes them uncomfortable.