How did you practice eye contact as a child?

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HeroOfHyrule
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02 Nov 2021, 4:29 pm

I'm curious if you guys practiced eye contact as a kid, and if you did, how did you do that?

I avoided eye contact because it made me uncomfortable, until I eventually figured out that I could help desensitize myself to it by making it into a game and having "staring contests" with kids. I didn't tell many people that was why I was doing it, but I think I told one of my ASD-like friends and we'd have staring contests together to get used to making eye contact. Eventually I could look people in the eye without much discomfort, until I stopped practicing it and it became awkward to do that again. After that I used a technique a teacher taught me where I'd just look at someones forehead or nose and they couldn't tell I wasn't actually making eye contact with them.


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IsabellaLinton
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02 Nov 2021, 4:45 pm

My teachers used to complain about it, so at one point I decided to learn. I watched some news reporters on TV because they look into the camera and I could see their eyes. I counted how many times they blinked in a minute, then went to a mirror and tried to copy it.

Safe to say it didn't work and I never really tried again. I don't even do the "look at their nose" strategy. I don't look at people's faces at all. Most of the time I'm facing the other direction because I don't want them to see MY eyes. It doesn't even occur to me that I'm supposed to fake it.

Sometimes I feel badly about it afterward (e.g., entire doctor's appointments without looking at the doctor), but I'd rather be myself than mask.



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02 Nov 2021, 4:47 pm

Generally I looked in someone's direction while they were talking, and still do. Due to my visual impairment, full on eye contact isn't that easy, even less so due to my autism. No-one has ever criticised me for lack of eye contact specifically insofar as I can recall, just not looking in someone's direction while speaking.


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HeroOfHyrule
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02 Nov 2021, 4:54 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:
My teachers used to complain about it, so at one point I decided to learn. I watched some news reporters on TV because they look into the camera and I could see their eyes. I counted how many times they blinked in a minute, then went to a mirror and tried to copy it.

Safe to say it didn't work and I never really tried again. I don't even do the "look at their nose" strategy. I don't look at people's faces at all. Most of the time I'm facing the other direction because I don't want them to see MY eyes. It doesn't even occur to me that I'm supposed to fake it.

Sometimes I feel badly about it afterward (e.g., entire doctor's appointments without looking at the doctor), but I'd rather be myself than mask.

I did the "counting how many times people blinked" thing, too. Never made proper use of it.

I don't look at peoples faces that much anymore. After going through a huge burnout before I signed up to this site I can't handle it now. I only make myself briefly look at peoples faces or make eye contact, unless I know someone well enough and am comfortable enough with them to do it a bit more often and consistently.


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HeroOfHyrule
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02 Nov 2021, 4:55 pm

NaturalEntity wrote:
Generally I looked in someone's direction while they were talking, and still do. Due to my visual impairment, full on eye contact isn't that easy, even less so due to my autism. No-one has ever criticised me for lack of eye contact specifically insofar as I can recall, just not looking in someone's direction while speaking.

I need glasses and can't really focus my eyes on someones face to comfortably look at them now, even when I do try to do so. If anyone mentions me not making eye contact/looking at them at all I just use that as an excuse. lol


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mohsart
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02 Nov 2021, 5:12 pm

I've never had problems looking into peoples eyes. But I've realized that I tend to look too much, too intensly. Some get the impression that I'm staring at them.

/Mats


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02 Nov 2021, 5:26 pm

I don't.

I usually look at people's mouths.
And strain my hearing.
Than 'look' for 'signs' involving eye contact.


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lvpin
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02 Nov 2021, 10:20 pm

After it being drilled into me that not making eye contact was rude I started reading into what the average length of time eye contact was. After that I realised I could fake making eye contact by looking either at someone's nose or between their eyes. I then would hold this for a few seconds, look away and then look back. Now I tend to only do it when I'm first meeting people, good friends are used to me looking 45 degrees away from them while speaking lol.



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03 Nov 2021, 2:14 am

I've never practiced it, and no one ever told me it was wrong not to make eye contact. Perhaps no one notices or cares that I'm not making eye contact. If someone's talking to me I look at them generally, just not necessarily at their eyes.

I do find looking at people very difficult in general though. Walking outside if I have to walk past people I focus on the floor... I don't know why but the thought of looking up or at them just fills me with anxiety. I just want to be invisible most of the time.



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03 Nov 2021, 3:05 am

no
at a point i thought other people thought i had a so-called evil eye
(when ppl you don't know attack you-physically, what can you make of that?)
also to not get noticed by other kids for that reason, or by teachers bc shyness/awkwardness, nowadays called anxiety?
strange, most of the incidents i've almost forgotten, but the feeling of being in imminent danger in people-situations not -the internal rumble-

eye contact is like when you want to have a fight, or sell a lie, or any dominating action
(or get the occasional creep following you)
8O oooh that's what its all about, you better fake it till you make it,
too late now :mrgreen:


first time i even heard about that was when i had kids, some mother in the changing rooms yelled at her child: "look me in the eyes, look me in the eyes", i thought, "that's torture"



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03 Nov 2021, 4:14 am

I never practiced eye contact as a child.

I remember my mother telling me to look at her when she was speaking to me, but she didn't tell me to look at any particular part of her face, or even any particular part of her body. If I looked in her general direction, that was good enough for her.

The first time someone complained to me about my lack of eye contact was when I was in my early-to-mid twenties.

Eye contact is one of those things that varies a lot from one culture to another. Even here in the U.S.A., it varies from one region to another, and has varied over time. Here in NYC, it apparently, somehow, became more important in the 1980's than it was previously. Also, according to my boyfriend who has lived in various parts of the U.S.A., eye contact always was more important on the West Coast than on the East Coast.

When I was little, eye contact wasn't yet quite the big deal that it later became (at least here in NYC). Back in the 1960's, "Look into my eyes," was something said by vampires on Dark Shadows, not by any actual humans that I knew.

Currently I live in a neighborhood with lots of immigrants from many different countries around the world, so I again don't experience much pressure to conform to any particular body language standard.


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03 Nov 2021, 5:08 am

In the social culture surrounding me as I grew up, it was considered insolent for a child to look into an adults eyes... considered rude and challenging behavior. From very early I was trained NOT to make eye contact. the whole "eye contact" thing is cultural and varies from place to place according to social norms around the world. The idea that we do or do not make eye contact in a particular way is not diagnostic of autism and should not be used as criteria to diagnose autism. Studies have found that many infants and small children with autism do make eye contact willingly but that it seems they do not attach significance or "get any message" from doing so. I find the constant discussion about eye contact and the special significance western cultural diagnosing professionals put on the significance of this behavior a distraction and misleading. I was denied diagnosis by one "professional" who learned about autism in the 1970s and never updated his information because I made eye contact, because I had a spouse and had worked a job. "autistic people don't do those things". right. the " eye contact theory" needs to be thrown out with the other outdated beliefs. Science today knows better. If only we could update the knowledge of dinosaurs like that doctor to reflect current information and understanding!! !!


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Steve1963
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03 Nov 2021, 5:31 am

I never practiced eye contact as a child or as an adult. I have a tendency to look at someone's forehead...just above the eyes. No one has ever mentioned my lack of eye contact, so I must be doing something right. The only person I can maintain actual eye contact with is my wife.



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03 Nov 2021, 9:57 am

From where I came from, eye contact is not directly enforced as an expression, but as a form of receptiveness.

"Makuha ka sa isang tingin"
It's translated more or less like 'read' (be warned/be mindful) the 'glance' (usually gazes by teachers or parents or basically authority figures) 'once' (implying it doesn't have to be repeated or said out loud and comprehend it).
It usually expresses more like 'warning to stop whatever wrong you're doing on my watch'.



Growing up, I didn't care.
Because I don't get it. :lol: And because it's usually not directed to me.


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nca14
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03 Nov 2021, 4:50 pm

I remember (or at least it seems to me so) that as a child I just did not think about practising eye contact (especially looking at the eyes of other people)... I did not think "at all" or so much before reading about mental disorders like schizophrenia spectrum disorders or Asperger's when I was about 16 years old. I do not remember looking at someone's eyes in childhood so much or even (almost) at all.

I also did not think about making non-romantic, non-sexual friends (especially close ones) since childhood (and now I still "do not think about it").



themightysun
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04 Nov 2021, 7:42 am

I didn't really practice. At one point when I was five or six, a teacher told me that if I don't look people in the eyes, they will think I'm not listening and don't care what they have to say. That terrified me and still does, because I already feel like I don't belong. I have reciprocated the other person's amount of eye contact ever since. Until the burnout started, anyway. Now it's a lot harder, but I have so many years of experience that I can sustain short bursts in between meltdown days.