Thursday 27 April 2017

30 Days of Autism Acceptance: Day 27


Day 27: 

Talk about eye-contact.  Do you make eye-contact?  Why or why not?  Does it make you uncomfortable?

I hate eye-contact. There are only about 2 or 3 people in my life that I've managed it with for more than a split second. It happens occasionally by accident but I thoroughly dislike it. It makes me feel physically uncomfortable and it's almost painful. It's too intense, and I think at least some of it is connected to sensory overload, too much information for our brains to process.

Most autistics struggle with eye contact. A lot of us hate it and don't do it at all, whereas others do it but for too long according to convention and it apparently freaks people out and makes them feel uncomfortable. There seem to be all kinds of unwritten social rules about eye contact, and they vary so much from circumstance to circumstance and person to person and situation to situation that I long ago gave up trying to make any sense of them.

And if you don't conform to the rules, if you're different, it can cause massive problems. One of the reasons I was so keen to get a formal diagnosis was because I'd go for job interviews, fail to get the job and in the feedback they invariably said that they didn't like that I didn't make eye contact. I've since been informed that not making eye contact at a job interview sends the message that you lack confidence, that you're hiding something/not being honest, etc, so they're not going to hire you. Or if you're not making eye contact or looking at the person speaking, you're assumed to not be paying attention and they get upset with you.

For us, eye contact isn't necessary, and can actually be distracting and off-putting. It's a different way of doing things. Not a lesser way.

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