It's All Okay

Just a mom blogging about life with an autistic child.

Location: Canada

I'm a stay at home mom with two boys. Patrick is my youngest and has ASD.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Look at me. Hey Patrick, right here. Look at my eyes.

Does it really make a difference? Is there a reason why he won't look in our eyes for more than a few seconds? Does it hurt him?

When we first found out Patrick was autistic we grabbed on to this one characteristic. If we could just get eye contact we'd be on our way. Everyone talks about how important it is.

Over the past year eye contact has become much less important for us. It just didn't feel right to force it. So we stopped. Completely. We worked on other areas of behaviour, speech, OT, fine motor skills, etc.

Result? When he wants to look at us he does. Sadly I can't remember the first time he initiated eye contact himself. But I do remember the feelings it illicited. He looked at me without prompting. It was more glorious than hearing "I love you" a hundred times.

Right now his eye contact is sporatic. He does it when he feels it's necessary. Even then it's often fleeting. Once he knows he has my attention he looks somewhere else.

I think at the beginning we clung to "normal". Well, seeming normal anyway. Fitting in. "Passing" as neurotypical. If he could just make eye contact he wouldn't be as "wierd". Then we realized that being able to look in my eyes would not make him less autistic. And over time we've realized we don't want him to be less of anything.

This is who he is. Perhaps he doesn't need eye contact to pay attention as other kids do. I remember being told "eyes on me" when I was in school. It seemed to work. But I'm thinking Patrick is capable of focusing on someone or something without looking at it. What a gift.


Blogger KAL said...

Oh, how I relate to this. Eye contact, no matter how brief, is a wondrous thing. I've been catching up on your blog and have enjoyed the reading. Thank you from a mom still new to this path.

Wed Feb 14, 09:17:00 AM 2007  
Blogger MileMasterSarah said...

Sandis’s lack of eye contact is what made autism finally make sense to me, or rather seem real. When I read about that, it grabbed me. I thought, “That is my son!” Of course there are other things that fit as well, but that was the first thing that helped me make sense of what was going on with my son. Sandis will initially make eye contact but can not maintain it. I used to hold his face (before I knew his diagnosis) and tell him to look at me, and I would get so mad that he wouldn’t. Now I look for other ways to know if he is “hearing” me.

Wed Feb 14, 12:08:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous Zena said...

Great work.

Mon Nov 10, 05:23:00 PM 2008  

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