There are various ideas on this matter.
Some individuals with autism report that when they make eye contact...it is very uncomfortable and it is like you are looking at their soul.
If you are determined to increase eye contact, you will need to reward constantly when it happens to keep up the likelihood - especially in a young child. Make sure as you hand over a reward, you verbally explain the reason for the reward "good eye contact Johnny." You may also want to work in a cue when you expect eye contact. For example, say "eyes" and gently lift his chin until his face is directed toward your face. Then begin speaking. Continue this until you can phase out the use of your hand. This will also work in public or with other relatives. When grandma comes to say hello to Johnny, you can remind him with "eyes" and he will look up to face her as she yammers.
If this child has great difficulty making eye contact and it appears to be distressing to him, try training the child to look at the bridge of your nose or your mouth. It is a close approximation and is better than having him stare at his shoes.
Keep a chart of his progress. Use simple tally marks to indicate use of eye contact (prompted and independent) to see that the method you have used is helping him make progress.
I work with many autistic children and it does take time to encourage them to even glance at you sometimes. Yet I have found that it does come. What I learned this past year is to keep instructions as short as possible. I would put this boy right in front of me and gently touch either his cheek or near the corner of his eye, while quietly saying "See me", as I touched the corner of my eye. At first he would pay attention for a split second, but by the end of the school year I could engage him for almost a minute. Which was long enough to get him where I needed him and give him a short, quick instruction. As the other poster said - some autistic children have difficulty with this but this method seems to work with many of the children I teach. Don't give up - keep trying. If he's in school you could ask his teacher how she/he engages him and for consistency you could do the same thing at home.
I have aspergers and this is one area I never really understood. Why do you neurotypicals think eye contact is so important? Can't you understand what I'm saying without looking at my eyeballs? Do neurotypicals blink out some sort of hidden message in morse code or something?
Today, I try increasing my eye contact for other people's benefit, but its very uncomfortable. Its kind of like staring at the sun.
Put a preferred item like an M&M or Cheerios near your eyes. (You might have to hold the item in front of the child and then allow his eyes to follow the item to your eyes.) When he follows it, provide verbal reinforcement ("Good job. Johnny looked at mommy.") and/or physical reinforcement (A pat on the arm.) Then give the preferred item to the child.
Eye contact and training a child to look at your face when you are talking are two different things. Go for the looks to your face first.
First how old is this child?
If your child is still small, you can try some activities such as a blanket swing, smooshing him/her between two pillows or boucing him/her on a big gym ball. These type of sensory activities naturally illicit eye contact. For example, lets say that you and another adult are swinging him in a blanket...be sure to look at him and praise as soon as he glances your way. Ask your child to look at you and if he does continue swinging...as soon as he looks away then stop. Again, prompt him to look act you...when he does praise and swing!! This is just an example, but I do this everyday of my life for a living and it seems to work! good luck!
Eye contact is overrated. If he has problems in other areas such as speech (receptive or spoken), learning etc. Then work on those first. Eye contact is very difficult and unless that is your only "unique" behavior you have with him, then don't worry about it and work on other things.
Many experts are saying to disregard lack of eye contact while other more pressing issues are worked on and with the build up of skills and self esteem, eye contact will be better.
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