Asperger’s Syndrome: “Look me in the eye when I talk to you!”

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In our Western culture we look people in the eye to show respect. However, this simple gesture is not an easy one for people with Asperger’s Syndrome, a low-level type of autism.

Children with Asperger’s typically have normal language and intellectual development. They may have large vocabularies and a fine ability to organize and understand material objects.

Yet, they avoid eye contact during conversations because visual interference is distracting to them.

Most people can internally mirror facial expressions and tone of voice to improve their understanding of what a speaker intends to communicate. For someone with Asperger’s, however, mirroring—or reading emotional states—is difficult. They have difficulty reading people’s feelings through body language and facial expressions and may not recognize subtle differences in speech tone that alter the meaning of others’ speech. Thus, they often tend to miss social cues.

Yet, like most people, a person with Asperger’s wants to be liked and to have friends. When they feel rejected for being odd and lacking the ability to connect easily, they feel alone and hurt.

So when you see a child or an adult who doesn’t look you in the eye, don’t assume they are being disrespectful. Be compassionate and imagine being in their shoes.

Even if a child does not have Asperger’s, but is simply shy or thinking about other things, the effect of demanding that he or she look at you only increases the child’s desire to withdraw. It’s better to kindly explain to the child that it’s helpful in this culture to occasionally glance at people in a conversation because it generally signifies respect. After that, kindness and acceptance are the best way to relate to those with Asperger’s as well as those who are merely shy.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Reference: John Elder Robison’s “Look me in the eye: my life with Asperger’s.”

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4 thoughts on “Asperger’s Syndrome: “Look me in the eye when I talk to you!”

  1. Michael Franklin

    Hello There,
    I hope this email finds you well.
    I am representing Quality Team of Cluas.
    I am contacting you because while analyzing Cluas links, it comes to our attention that our website http://cluas.ie/ is getting links from your website. The links are as follows
    Link: https://www.sowhatireallymeant.com/2011/10/04/asperger%E2%80%99s-syndrome-%E2%80%9Clook-me-in-the-eye-when-i-talk-to-you%E2%80%9D/
    Anchor Text: Aspergers

    All above links are violating current formal Google guidelines. Thus all these links are not good for our website, but also affecting your website as well.
    I would like to thank you very much for adding these links on your website, but on the same time I request you to remove all the above links. Please get in touch as soon as possible to confirm that you received the email and removed the link. The alternative solution for us would be to send a Disavow Link report to Google which is something that would also affect your rankings and website profile.
    Thank you for understanding please let me know if you have any query.

    Regards
    Michael Franklin

    Reply
    1. Alison Post author

      Hi Michael,
      Thank you for letting me know! I just got rid of that link, which was in somebody’s comment. Please let me know if you still see it.
      Thank you.
      Alison

      Reply
  2. Anna Boyle

    Aspergers affects the ability of communicating socially and in worst case it can also results in rigid patterns of nature and behavior.So, its very necessary to work on the communication skills of a child with Aspergers.
    If you are a parent of child with Aspergers, then help him improving his interaction ability by taking him to the mental health expert.

    Reply
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