Updated: May 14, 2019
In a previous article “Why Do Children With Autism Avoid Eye Contact?”, we looked at a research article that helped gave us some insight into various reasons why autistic children tend to avoid eye contact. We also spoke of a step-by-step desensitisation process that we use to help children flex and train this “eye-contact muscle”. In this follow-up, we want to give you a few practical tips you can apply in your interaction with your child to encourage eye-contact.
The desensitisation process, as previously mentioned, is a process that slowly acclimates an individual to something that is initially unbearable to them. As the initial baseline of tolerance levels varies from child to child, it is best to establish one by simply observing naturally occurring levels of eye-contact. For example, observing when and if they do voluntarily make eye-contact with you or when they are responsive to you. You should also take note of how often this happens, how long it is sustained for, and if it happens during particular periods of the day. From there, you will better understand when it is a better time to practice working on eye-contact, what you can expect, and a benchmark to note any improvements.