How do I Improve Eye Contact in a Student with Autism?

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Check Out the New Blog There is a part in our brain that analyzes and recognizes faces. People with autism often may be overly sensitive in this part of the brain and may find it painful to look at a face. Others with autism may not develop this part of the brain fully or may block processing faces completely. Eye contact, therefore, makes some people with autism uncomfortable and we, as educators, need to help them improve eye contact with others.

Visual contact with faces can also affect the brain’s alarm system. Consider how you feel when you look at the picture of the owl? This is a little like how people’s faces look to those with autism. It can be somewhat frightening or intense and uncomfortable.

Some students on the spectrum may use their peripheral vision to look at people and things from the side. They may also actually try moving things into the sideline of their vision in an attempt to stimulate or relax the way they’re feeling.

The best way to deal with this is to speak to the person with autism whether they are looking at you or not.

In most cases it is best if you do not insist that people with autism look at you when speaking. It may make them uncomfortable to do so. Realize that students with autism often are listening even if they show no response.

What are some of the ways you can help students with autism improve eye contact?

Learn more…Take this course: Introduction to Autism

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One Response to “How do I Improve Eye Contact in a Student with Autism?”
  1. Marcy Prager says:

    During our “Morning Meetings,” students sat in a circle and greeted and acknowledged the child next to them by shaking their hand and saying, “Good Morning, _____________,” expecting good eye-contact. The greetings would change and be very engaging. Little by little, all of the children learned to have good eye-contact. It is less threatening for students to have eye contact with peers than adults.

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