Researchers found that children with autism used eye contact to explore the world around them, and would often turn away for comfort during social interactions. The study also showed these kids have a preference for faces — whether it be their own or someone else’s face — over other forms of stimuli.
Many people wonder if lack of eye contact is a sign of autism. The answer to this question is no. Lack of eye contact is not a symptom of autism, but it can be a symptom of ADHD. Read more in detail here: is no eye contact a sign of adhd.
One of the most prevalent signs of autism is a lack of or limited eye contact.
Avoidance of eye contact is one of the possible “red flags” that might indicate autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is a behavior that may start in childhood and last into maturity.
This key nonverbal communication skill may be improved by behavioral therapies that concentrate on social and communication skills linked to autism. Children may learn to be more comfortable with eye contact with frequent treatment.
Lack of Eye Contact as a Possible Early Indicator of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Between the ages of 18 and 24, a formal diagnosis of autism may be made. Parents may observe signs of autism in newborns as early as 6 months old, even though the diagnosis is not deemed stable until they reach the age of two.
Newborns often make eye contact at first, but studies reveal that babies who are subsequently diagnosed with autism frequently lose interest in doing so. This attraction usually fades between two and six months.
Autism may be detected in infants as early as six months old by a lack of eye contact. However, it is not the only sign. It must occur in conjunction with other symptoms.
Autism’s Other Symptoms
Early signs of autism in children include:
Because not all newborns grow at the same pace, some may exhibit indications of autism at an early age and subsequently “catch up” to their neurotypical classmates by the age of two or so. As a consequence, although loss of eye contact might be a warning sign and possible predictor of autism, it is not conclusive evidence of the illness. Other indications and symptoms will be required as well.
During well-child checks, an autism screening should be performed. These tests will be done by pediatricians at both the 18-month and 24-month visits.
The sooner autism is identified and diagnosed, and therapies begin, the better the child’s long-term result will be. Speak to your child’s doctor if you observe any of the probable indicators of autism, such as a lack of eye contact.
Eye Contact Problems Get Worse As You Get Older
Eye contact is commonly avoided by toddlers and young children with autism. They have difficulty with social communication, particularly nonverbal communication such as eye contact.
A lack of eye contact may last well into adulthood. Children with autism typically reject cooperative play and prefer to play alone. Many sorts of age-appropriate communication and socialization are challenging for them.
Autism is a lifelong condition, and difficulties with eye contact may last well into adulthood. Adults with autism sometimes avoid eye contact since it is distressing to them. This problem may be addressed with therapy.
Other Factors Contributing to Limited Eye Contact
People with autism aren’t the only ones who have trouble establishing eye contact. Eye contact problems may sometimes be an indication of social nervousness.
Someone who is nervous among others, timid, or lacking self-confidence may find it difficult to meet other people’s gazes. In stressful circumstances, people may find it difficult to keep their heads up and look someone in the eyes.
If you notice that your kid is having trouble with eye contact, consider if it is a situational problem or something that occurs on a regular basis. Discuss your concerns with your child’s doctor.
Improving Eye Contact & Nonverbal Communication Skills With Therapy
Children with autism may learn how to enhance both verbal and nonverbal communication abilities with early therapies such as speech and language therapy, applied behavior analysis (ABA), and occupational therapy.
Eye contact is challenging for persons with ASD for a variety of reasons, according to research. As a result, forcing an autistic youngster to stare into your eyes is not a good idea. Instead, behavior therapy may help youngsters gradually develop a tolerance for eye contact and show them that it is not as frightening as it seems.
ABA is a behavior modification technique that use positive reinforcement to promote specified actions. When educating youngsters about the social consequences and benefits of eye contact, this might be useful.
A therapist might gently urge the youngster to initiate eye contact, and then progressively lengthen that contact. The youngster will be rewarded for his or her good conduct by the therapist.
Behavior therapy may also teach families efficient, less stressful methods to communicate that promote social progress.
While making direct eye contact may always be unpleasant for someone with autism, treatment may considerably increase their capacity to do so. This may help a person thrive as an adult in settings when eye contact is required, such as job interviews.
Lack of eye contact is a common symptom of autism. It is not a sign that someone has autism, but it can be an indicator. Reference: high-functioning autism eye contact.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes lack of eye contact in autism?
A: As with most other neuropsychiatric disorders, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is likely to be related to in-utero disruption of brain development. Whether its a lack of oxygen and nutrients asphyxiating the fetus or genetic mutations that occur during this process, more research must be done on how ASD develops and progresses for an answer to these questions.
Do high functioning autism make eye contact?
A: Yes, people with high functioning autism do not make eye contact more than the average person. However, they might have a hard time reading expressions while doing so due to motor difficulties.
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Janice is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Special Education. She also holds a Master of Science in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She has worked with and case managed children and youth with autism and other intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in home and residential setting since 2013.