How to develop eye contact, naturally – Autism, social anxiety

Eye contact can be difficult for some people, in particular people with Autism Spectrum Disorders, shyness, social anxiety and language disorders.

It has even been stated by some people with Autism, that eye contact can in fact be painful.

Other research suggests, people with Autism are sensitive to eye contact or eye gazing.

Non verbal signs such as, eye contact, pay an integral role in paving the way for social interactions.

Developing eye gazing will help with understanding social cues.

Eye contact or eye gazing should never be forced.

Here, I will explain some organic ways to encourage or prompt eye contact and/or eye gazing.

Encouraging engagement in everyday activities at home is a great way to develop relationships, social skills and skills for independent living.

What I have learnt

Through early interventions practices such as the RDI model, I developed a strategy to pause. This concept can be used in everyday activities and tasks.

Basically, I would stop, say nothing, wait for eye contact, then continue.

Use everyday tasks around the home to develop eye contact and social interaction

Taking laundry off the line

  • Carry the washing basket to the line together, engagement!
  • Make a game of doing the laundry.
  • Start by taking the washing off the line, encourage the person to have their hands out, ready to catch.
  • Here is the key, before you throw, wait, saying nothing, when you receive some eye gazing, throw the item of clothing.
  • Encourage the person to catch and place the washing in the washing basket.
  • Lots of praise, big smiles, thumbs up.

The same can be done for putting the dishes away.

Putting the dishes away

  • Before you hand the person you are supporting the dish to put away, wait, say nothing, when you get some eye gazing, hand over the dish.
  • Make sure you use lots of different positive facial expression and praise.

Got it! Think of all the engaging activities you can do around the home and work on eye gazing/contact at the same time.

Using PECS (picture exchange communication) to develop eye contact

I used lots of visuals to help my son make his own food choices of what to eat.

He started to point to what he wanted, then moved onto giving me the visual of what he wanted.

This is when I started to bring the visual up to eye level. I would wait, say nothing, when I got some eye gazing , I then proceeded to handover what he chose to eat.

Like what you have read? Click below to read more on tips using visuals for communication.

Autism language speech visual strategies

Have questions? Email me

Till next time

Alison – Mother, Blogger, Founder – See-n-Speak – Visual Communication Aids

Alison Mooney

I am a mother first, Blogger and Founder of See-n-Speak Communication Picture Exchange resources for people with a Disability. Sharing our resources and knowledge successfully using picture exchange as a form of communication with our child.

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