Eye Contact

Over the years I’ve gotten a lot better at looking people in the eye when I talk to them. Sometimes I find myself looking away and have to bring my gaze back to the person I’m talking to, but looking people in the eye isn’t as uncomfortable as it was a few years ago.

I can’t exactly explain why looking people in the eye is so difficult or uncomfortable, but I think it has something to do with the intensity of looking into someone’s eyes. “The eye is the window to the soul.” I think that when people look me in the eye I feel that statement very much sometimes, like they are looking inside me and that feeling is very uncomfortable. It makes it feel like your insides are churning and you can only get relief by looking away.

I think now that I understand why eye contact is so important, it is easier to look people in the eye when I’m talking to them. Although it still is uncomfortable looking someone in the eye, my understanding of the purpose of eye contact makes it more bearable and makes me feel more comfortable with it. I think I also focus more on the conversation and what the person is saying so eye contact isn’t in the forefront of my mind.

I also don’t think that this is something I could have overcome by just deciding one day to start looking people in the eye. I think that it was a combination of becoming more comfortable with conversing with people and with making a decision to improve my social skills. Looking people in the eye was just another aspect of improving my social skills and I slowly got better at it by practicing looking people in the eye when I talked to them. Sometimes it was only for a few moments in a conversation, but I now can look someone in the eye for a full conversation and only look away when it is appropriate to do so.

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5 thoughts on “Eye Contact

  1. Thank you for relating about how you feel about eye contact. I just read your most recent post about “eye contact and fooling;)” as well and both posts resonate with me. My son doesn’t consistently look people in the eye but when he does he has very strong eye contact and as his grandmother says its “like he’s looking right into your soul with so much maturity.” When he feels close to someone he will share this strong look and before when he was nonverbal this felt so very intense when he did this.

    I always felt that when SLP’s tried to force the “shift gaze” and speech by holding a toy right to their eyes to force him to just glance even at their eyes it was so very hard for him. It felt like to me when someone says “tap your head and rub your tummy and say a rhyme” and how impossible it is because too many things I was being asked to do. Right now he is being asked at school to remember to turn to the person who he is saying hi to, look at their eyes and then say “hello.” On top of this he has motor speech delay so he’s literally learning how to articulate individual sounds properly so everyone can understand what’s he’s saying. If this was me and I was learning French and had to suddenly converse with a native speaker I’d feel shy and hyper aware of how I sounded etc. For people he is close to like his educational assistant or family he will remember to do the steps. His teacher wants my son to create a little story with pictures of the steps of “saying hi” as as social story to show he knows how to generalize this skill. My son does know the steps but he tells me “Mommy its hard…its hard talking and doing this.” Any advice? 🙂

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    • Have you ever tried video modeling? It’s something I really want to try with saying hi to people. (I can explain video modeling a bit if you haven’t heard of it.) Saying hi is the one thing that I’ve never really learned how to do very well.
      And it is really hard, but doing it as a kid/ teen is so much better than trying to do it as an adult. My parents and therapist challenged me to do things as a teen that now are fairly easy for me to do, but were super hard back then. The challenges that I didn’t do though are even harder to do now because as an adult people expect so much more from you so if you mess up, they don’t forgive as easily.

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      • Video modelling….that’s a great idea! I have found recently that he is teaching himself things like Lego or how to make sandwiches by watching videos. Thank you for reminding me that what is tough now will only get tougher later.

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      • Yeah, I’ve heard really good things about video modeling. One of these days when I have time I want to try it out and see if it helps with some things I have problems with.
        Also, not only will things that are tough now get tougher if you don’t practice them, but things that you do practice will get easier too.

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