Everything is to do with the eyes. And that’s not just me writing on a personal note.
There’s the saying “The eyes are the windows to the soul”. Derren Brown had a wonderful segment in one of his shows about how a liar gives themselves away. (It’s in the eyes!) Specsavers even had an advert featuring a giant eye.
As someone with Aspergers, I have a problem with eye contact. (On another ‘eye’ note-I also wear glasses.)
Eye contact is something that I have struggled with for a very long time. For instance, I NEVER understood why a teacher I had use to say “You clearly aren’t listening, because you aren’t looking at me!” (They would then gauge eye-contact, without blinking, and not letting your line of sight wonder away.)
Eye contact: I don’t make it well, and it’s one of my spectrum characteristics. I can make it, but not for very long. I also do not know when is the right time to look away, or wench is too long to look. It also feels, if someone is deliberately trying to hold my eye for longer, that it’s searing into the back of my skull. It is invasive if for too long.
Because.. eye contact is personal. And to keep eye contact has a whole host of social meaning I’m to privy to. (Are you being suggestive, intimate, trying to determine if I am guilty of some dirty trick, or trying to assert dominance?)
Whenever I am at an event, or even networking, I try to stand sideways to someone, on the pretence I can hear them better. (Well, it’s true. And I also don’t have to look them in the eye.) But if I do have to look them in the eye… I look at the top of the nose, a tactic I was taught at fifteen. Just between the eyebrows, before the eyes, near the forehead.
As a journalist, one thing I learnt to pick up on is the eyes. Are you interviewing someone? Maintaining excessive eye contact could suggest guilt that they are trying to cover up, or an air of arrogance/confidence. A lack of it could suggest nervous, a curiosity about the surrounding environment, or disinterest.
But if someone on spectrum is with you, please don’t try to force eye contact deliberately. Don’t try to pretend “they are ‘normal'” by doing it, or trying to gauge a response. It’s a trait that some people on spectrum have, after all. It’s not going away with a click of the fingers.