How to improve eye contact in autistic children?

The eyes are the mirror of the soul and reflect everything that seems to be hidden; and like a mirror, they also reflect the person looking into them.

As the Brazilian author, Mr. Paulo Coelho had quoted, our eyes express out all the thoughts and emotions we try to bury deep within our minds. We can easily find out the mood of a person by looking into his/her eyes (unless they had mastered to mask their emotions). Some people can even figure out the character of the person they are talking to, just by looking at their eyes. This is why maintaining a good eye contact take the first priority during a conversation. This is also why we should teach our kids to reply or talk with others looking at their eyes.

Improving eye contact in autistic children

As it is known, autistic kids do not maintain a good eye contact with others. We need to train them to focus on the eyes of the people they are talking to. It is a common misconception that autistic children can never make eye contact with others or understand other’s emotions. They do look into others eyes but that depends on what the speaker is talking. They can’t understand others body language because they are not maintaining a proper eye to eye contact with the speaker. There is NO NEED TO WORRY; we can make them look at us to some extent by doing the following activities

Sing rhymes to them:

mom child play

Autistic or not, all kids love nursery rhymes and their joy doubles if the rhymes are accompanied by actions. You can sing rhymes to them and they would definitely look at your eyes. Even with a kid whom you feel eye contact is 0, singing rhymes would encourage him/her to look at you. When I say SING rhymes, I mean YOU HAVE TO SING IT OUT to them and NOT PLAY IT on your TV, tablet, phone, laptop etc. The main purpose of singing is to attract their attention to you.

Sit with the kid in such a way that he/she doesn’t have to struggle to look at you. While singing rhymes like “daddy finger, daddy finger where are you” or “where is Thumbkin,   where is Thumbkin” you can use attractive objects like balloons etc. on your fingers and hold it near your eyes. Thus your kid would be tempted to look at your eyes.

Play peek- a- boo with them

peek a boo activity

Playing peek – a- boo is another excellent way to make the autistic child look at you.

Covering your face with your hands, a piece of cloth or paper and then removing it to look at the baby will attract his/her attention to your eyes. If there are other kids in your home you can encourage them to play peek – a –boo with the child.

Stick attractive stickers/ objects to your face

nose decoration

Like I had said before, sit in such a way that your kid can directly look at your eyes without any efforts. Stick the picture of fruits, vegetables or animals (anything that the kid finds interesting) near your eyes or above your eye brows and talk to him/her. Point to the place where you had stuck the picture and say “see mummy has got an apple on the eye/eyebrow” or “where is the butterfly?…..here it is”. You can also stick colorful objects on your nose and talk to him/her in a funny tone or sing rhymes in different tones.

You can occasionally ask your kid to look at your eyes. Just say “look at mummy” or look at mummy’s eyes” (and not like “look at mommy with your big beautiful eyes” or lookie lookie at mummy’s eyes”). Take care not to overdo it. Asking him/her constantly to look at you can irritate the child (won’t you If someone keep on telling you to look at them?). Even if the child appears uninterested, you have to keep talking, playing and teaching them things. You feel the kid is not paying attention because he/she is not looking at you. Not looking does not mean that they are not listening.  Definitely, they would be listening to what you say and you will know it when the kids start to express themselves.

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