“Where our eyes go to, often indicates where our attention goes. The same is true for our children, when they spontaneously look at us, which indicates that most of their attention is on us. Our children are showing to us that in that moment they are interested in us and want to engage with us. Yiiiipeeeee – this is great!
“When our children look at us – this is a great event to be celebrated and cherished! It is not easy for someone on the Autism spectrum to maintain eye contact with other people. Yet, there are times that our brave children and adults on the spectrum venture out of their comfort zone and are willing to do this.
“We, in response, want to acknowledge and nurture a love of looking at other people, because this will help our children in many ways. Looking at people, will help our children with:
• Being able to read subtle social cues, for example, knowing if someone is actually listening to them or if they are interested in their topic of conversation. Our children might not notice these subtle cues, if they do not see the other person’s face.
• Looking at us, allows our children to see the love and joy that we have for them. Our facial expressions carry a lot of emotions and unless if someone looks at our face, they might miss this
• Looking at the people (family members, teachers, and caregivers) enables our children to focus more on those people and therefore learn more from them.
“This might seem like a small thing, but it’s huge!!!
“Here are some things you can do to inspire your child on the Autism Spectrum to want to look more at you (and at the people in their lives):
1. Allow them to look at you when they want, versus forcing them to look or offering a reward to prompt them to look at you.
2. Show genuine excitement in your facial expressions, when your child does look at you. Smile with your whole face and heart!
3. Celebrate your child’s looks by letting him/her know how thrilled you feel when he/she does it.
4. Be silly and playful – this goes a long way and helps our children not only to want to look at us more, but to engage and participate more with us.
5. Be a role model! Look at your child when you speak to him/ her. We all have a busy life and sometimes need to create an intention to do this more often 😉
6. Leave more pauses in conversations and wait until your child looks at you, before you continue talking.
Have fun with this and let us know how it goes!!!”
Written by Camila Titone, Senior Son-Rise Program Teacher