About this blog.

My son was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at 24 months. I created this blog to bring meaning to the often-confusing label. Sometimes I have answers. Other times, just more questions.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mythbusters, Part II: Eye Contact

"Children with autism don't make eye contact."

This was an assumption I labored under before Brad was diagnosed. This is false. According to Medical News Today (a wire service), an individual with autism may present with:
...[m]uch less eye contact than a person without autism. However, many people with autism do make eye contact, but often in a way that is different when compared to an individual without autism.
Typically developing children use gaze cognitively to read nonverbal social cues. They are said to use "gaze monitoring" or use gaze to "check in" periodically. I believe this is, in part, what distinguishes children on the spectrum from typically developing children. Speaking from our experience, at 24 months, Brad made eye contact but as I indicate in the margin of this blog, he didn't use gaze the way a typically developing child does.


Anonymous said...

I struggled with this early on as well. My daughter used to have beautiful eye contact, but looking back I realize that she did not have the gaze monitoring you wrote about.

There are so many false assumptions and blanket lists out there that can be misleading. I remember wondering about whether or not Rhema had autism, and one of the books I checked was the "What to Expect: The Toddler Years." Not the best source for autism, of course, but it was on my bookshelf so I grabbed it. The book's list for autism included descriptions like "joyless", "anti-social", "doesn't like to be touched", etc. I remember thinking that does not describe my daughter so she must not have autism. The book's list has been changed now, but at the time, it sure did throw me.

Laura said...

Thanks for the note. Yeah there are so many myths.

I actually had the opposite experience with the WTE book. Brad didn't flash his first social smile until 10 weeks. If your child isn't smiling by the end of month 2, WTE says "delay could indicate a problem." I googled "late smile" and all the hits were autism. That was our first sign. Of course, then he flashed that smile and I was immediately reassured, and didn't panic again until 24 months.

~AspieMom~ said...

We heard that as well. My son *would* hug me, though at times it seemed force. He *would* look at me and others, but in a bizarre way. He wasn't in a corner rocking and flapping, so therefore no one, except for me, thought he was on the spectrum at first.

I swear, I think my daycare provider thought I'd lost my mind.

"He's fine! He's just a quirky smart kid."

That's the biggest clue right there!

Good for you for busting up these myths!