Thursday, May 15, 2014

The look you're not getting

One of the traits for Asperger's Syndrome is the inability to make eye contact.  One of the reasons, I believe, this to be is because of all that occurs on our faces during a typical conversation.  You are talking, your lips are moving, your eyebrows are arching, your forehead is wrinkling, you're waving your hands, and you're still talking.  To a person with AS, who typically is also dealing with Sensory Processing Disorder, this is an overload of information to process at once.  We, those of us familiar with AS, know this and typically work around the social "rule" of making eye contact.  We look for ways to teach our children to make eye contact to be more socially accepted.  We beg teachers to let our kids doodle while getting instruction so they can concentrate on words alone.  

Look OR Listen NOT Both (google images)
Even as we work on that have we ever really thought about if from the child's point of view?  Recently I came across something Audrey wrote.  It is simple and to the point and didn't offer a ton of insight, but it did put me in my place.

"I heart being nice.  But sometimes I have a tough time doing so in person.  I'm better when I can't see someone's face.  Kinda weird".  

First and foremost my heart melted because she hearts being nice!!  (I'm totally doing something right)  Then my heart broke because she sees this as "kinda weird".  Whenever one of my kids thinks they are weird or, more often than not, that Mom is weird I chant, "Embrace your weirdness".  And with my Aspie I always tell her, "wired, not weird".  She does these things because of the way her brain is wired.  Embrace that too!  Most importantly, it's for us to heed her statements.  Accept that it's tough and be okay with that.

So, my point(s) are this.

**If someone is not making eye contact with you don't jump to conclusions and think they are rude.

** Consider for a moment that this person is uncomfortable looking at you while you speak because of all the sensory information you are putting out there to be processed at once.

**If you encounter a person like this do not be afraid to ask them if they'd rather not look at you.  You aren't being rude by asking, you are being considerate and in tune to your audience.

**We all have our own idiosyncrasies; embrace the way you are wired.

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