I don't remember when Ryan's eye contact became less. When he chose, with more and more frequency, to look past me and not at me. To choose to look at the floor or the wall rather than my face. It must have happened gradually as Denial and I continued to also look the other way because losing the ability to see inside Ryan's soul was too painful to face. At some point and time, Ryan closed the windows, drew the shades and would only allow brief glimpses into his perfectly innocent, highly sensitive, bewildered soul. Although I was no longer able to see Ryan's soul through his averted eyes, I could still feel it...with my heart and with my soul. I knew that Ryan was still in there...behind the shades.
I am not the first worried, nutsy, frustrated, misinformed mother who has shouted, "Look at me!" to their eye averting ASD child. Many children and adults living with an ASD are taught to "look people in the eye" as a way of social engagement, as a way of fitting in, as a way of looking "normal". Even though I understand that eye contact may be difficult for Ryan others do not, so it is important that he learns at least to periodically look at someone when he is speaking to them. It's funny, because now, when we try to encourage it, we have gotten exactly what we deserve. Sometimes after the words, "look at me" are kindly said, no longer shouted in a hysteria induced state, Ryan will look right at me, over-exaggerating his look by bulging his eyes as big and as wide as they will go in a sort of, well, you wanted to see my eyes, see my soul, now you can see as much of them as you need to, kind of way. Needless to say, looking at big bug eyes is incredibly distracting for me and causes me to lose my train of thought. Tit for tat. Ryan, 1, Mom, 0.
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