Why Is Eye Contact So Difficult? (For Someone With Autism)


so welcome back to Asperger’s from the inside today I’ll be talking about eye contact which is something that a lot of people in the spectrum find quite difficult and the reason that I’ve got these juggling balls here is because sometimes for me at least making eye contact really just takes my attention away from what I’m supposed to be doing so people say things like remember to make eye contact and that’s about as useful as saying please remember not to drop any of the juggling balls while you’re talking to me because if you drop one then I’ll think that you’re not paying attention to me whereas actually a lot of the time the opposite is true if I’m paying attention to you if I’m staring directly into the camera for example it takes a lot of extra brainpower that could have been used to do something else like remember what I’m trying to say whoops sorry or listen to what you’re saying will practically process the information so that can be really draining in social situations and it’s a lot easier for me to just stare out the window or something instead of trying to constantly make sure that you know that I’m listening to you by taking all of my attention to make eye contact so a second related reason why I contact can be difficult is because if we’re looking each other directly in the eye it’s a little bit vulnerable it kind of feels like you can see directly into my soul and that makes me self-conscious because what if what you see isn’t what you expect to see all of a sudden now I need to make sure that the contents of my soul exactly what you’re expecting to see otherwise you’re going to think I’m weird and you’re not going to want to talk to me anymore and a more practical way to think about this is that if we’re looking at each other’s faces I’m my face is kind of expected to kind of mirror what you’re saying mirror the emotions in in their in the story or whatever you’re telling me in your speech and sorry my face just doesn’t always do that it takes a lot of energy to artificially say all you need me to react right now I’ll better put that reaction on my face otherwise you’ll think I’m not listening to you so instead if I’m just listening I can spend more of my energy understanding what you’re saying and validating those that story and those emotions verbally or with other things that come more naturally to me rather than trying to artificially put an expression on my face that wouldn’t otherwise be there if I weren’t so concerned about making sure that you knew that I was listening to you sorry so I hope that’s been helpful today you get hopefully you’re getting a sense of sometimes how much energy and concentration it can take to try and make eye contact with people and sometimes I just wanted to forget about it and not have the burden of making sure that I’m doing a socially appropriate thing that is actually quite difficult for me so some people find it more easier than others as you can see juggling is not particularly difficult for me but it still takes some energy so even people who are good at eye contact sometimes just appreciate a break where it’s not actually necessary so I hope you’ve enjoyed this video and I’ll see you again next time bye you

45 thoughts on “Why Is Eye Contact So Difficult? (For Someone With Autism)

  1. I'll just say. Every time you looked into the camera I was a little intimidated. It wasn't anything about your soul. All I saw was beauty and concentration. I just paid attention to your shirt collar and mic. Sometimes the wall behind you. I really don't do eye contact. Voice contact is all I really give most of the time. Eye contact is left for emphasis. My bad for the rant. Good video tho. Appreciation.

  2. I relate so much to the expectations of facial expression. If I’m listening intently, I have no expression and people think I look bored, when the truth is I’m really taking in what they are saying.

  3. Hi again, Paul!
    I believe a new approach is in order for me: I am going to save time by choosing "Like" first, while the video opens on my phone, and then watch your presentations after the "clocking" finishes! Every one of yours is worth gold!
    Please continue😊
    Greetings to Shannan also: her first video is excellent, and even I who have no children learned a great deal! Well done!
    You're a really good juggler by the way, and not only with tennis balls: you manage to squeeze an amazing amount into 24 hours! Please remember to rest, eat and take good care of yourself. [If I sound like an Uncle issuing orders to a favourite nephew, I am four times an uncle, twice a grand uncle, and believe it or not, once a great-grand uncle!].
    Thank you again, Friend and Mentor Paul,
    Jim Kramer
    Fellow Aspie in
    Pittsburgh

  4. Haven't watched the video yet, but – You juggle!! 😀 I've very recently started learning to juggle. It's a nice surprise you do it as well. 🙂

  5. I taught myself to make eye contact. I’m not sure how long to make eye contact for, I tend to try to make a point. Most people seem to be unaware that eye contact isn’t natural for me but my autism assessor spotted it.

  6. My mother didn't know how to handle me and always forced me to look her in the eye…as if she was looking for guilt. Even more reason for me to not look people in the eye. I like looking at their photos..that way, I can see their face without feeling judged. Oh man, I wish I could juggle.. It is on my bucket list.

  7. I have a quick question: When I like your video's the like 👍 is no longer highlighted and I have to click it again. Does anyone know if this is a problem on my side?

  8. Same like me, it feels like making eye contact drains the last energy reserves out of my body.
    Also not looking someone in the eyes lets me concentrate on the topic a lot better. I always watch them on the chest, this is very bad if you are talking with a female.
    Looking at a females tits while talking with her makes me very self-conscious.

  9. My son, who is 35, was diagnosed with ADD at an early age because of constant problems in school. Now, years down the road, I believe he had Asperger's, too. You see, he always had a problem with eye contact, which was never addressed by teachers or specialists when he was younger. I don't ever remember hearing the word ”Asperger” being mentioned by the doctors I sent him too. Thank God he's employed and married, but he still deals with problems. I'm just realizing now that Aspergers should have been looked into. As a mother I feel I failed him because I always told him to look people in the eye when speaking to them, which now I know was not his fault. He's unaware I've been researching Asperger's and I can't tell him. I don't think he will receive the information I've found very well. Any suggestions? Thank you.

  10. Yep, I finally reched a point where I decided to just stop even attempting eye contact unless it's something important and scheduled. Even then I'm pretty sure my tendency to glance quickly and look away must seem creepy. I tend to address a single person and if there are more I want to look at each and no doubt break all kinds of those stupid unspoken rules. And I know my resting face, which is standard and seldom breaks unless I'm feeling VERY comfortable with my surroundings, is a most surly glare. Not a frown but an excellent simulation. It's so much work to work out expectations and it seems so excessive to do more than requested that I avoid friendship mostly because I need too much validation and don't know what to give back. It's just more peaceful and restful to be alone. By the way, mad juggling skills, I've been trying to learn for years and finally made some progress but it's achingly slow.

  11. I didn't understand the need to juggle while you talked. Unless you were trying to make a point that eye contact is distracting. Because the juggling was very distracting. It took away from your message, and I had a hard time focusing on your talking. I also felt like this video was a bit rushed. You had some good points but I personally would enjoy a longer video with in depth discussion on why eye contact is difficult. I'm not not trying to be rude or mean. Just trying to give some constructive feedback. Hope to see more from you soon.

  12. I lerned to look people in the eyes, but just for short until it gets so unconfortable, and unberable, the I look away. Sometimes I pretend to do multitasking and do something, while listening. Even thou I am bad at multitasking. I just pretend. Few times in the last weeks my college was telling me someting important and I startet to bring order on the table while listening. She got angry with me and said: U don't have interrest to listen what I am saying, right?
    I said: No, I listen to u carefully, sorry I did not want u to feel this way.
    Few times it happened, then I told her, that I have difficulty to look people in the eyes.
    Why is it actually? What are the reasons for that? Are there different reasons or do the Aspies have all the same reasons?
    I myself experience many things so intense. And looking in the eyes of someone it feels like I can see this person from the inside and there is a fear, that the other person can look inside me. So thats to much personal, and it makes me feel so unconfortable.

  13. Thanks for the video. The part you talked about how people expect you to mirror the emotions of their speech on your face made total sense to me. I try to make good eye contact, but it seems people get weirded out by my eyes or face and just walk away. Honestly I don’t know what else to do. The only thing I can say to help people on the spectrum is to find Jesus. Read the book of Mathew and the rest of the bible and you’ll find a God who is willing to die for you and be your friend. And even if nobody on earth likes you he will be by your side.

  14. THANK YOU! (sigh of relief) I'd write more but you said it all and so perfectly <3 I really hope others can learn from this video. So appreciated as always 🙂

  15. I really hate it when I see teachers telling children to look them in the eye. I still don't fully understand why eye contact is seen as such a big deal. I think listening is a far greater skill.

  16. your juggling skills are really impressive! On the subject of energy to engage, I've just recently realised how hard this really is. I feel like there is a brick wall between me other people and to have a conversation with someone is like jumping up and hanging on the wall so we can talk. But eventually my arms get tired and I fall down – out of the convo! And after a few hours I simply NEED to rest, until my arms can hold me up again.

  17. I love how you dropped the ball after you started looking at them. Your eyes tricked you didn't they, threw your rhythm off

  18. I agree with everything you said! 🙋
    Also, eye contact can sometimes trigger some kind of claustrophobia for me. Like I'm trapped and can't escape 🙈

  19. I am not aspie but I also don't like looking at people when i am listening to them because I get distracted by seeing the person looking at me. In looking away, I tilt my head so my ear is towards the person and I look down so it is visually clear that I am not looking at something else (the scenery) but rather concentrating on what they are saying. My head is facing mostly towards them but my eye sightline is dropped so I am not looking at their face but still giving the (correct) impression that I am focused on them. If one is looking up and away at something else while someone is speaking, this gives the visual impression that you would rather BE somewhere else or are interested in in someTHING else rather than the person you are conversing with. Anyway, I have never had anyone indicate they thought I was not focusing on them. thank you for your time

  20. Hi, i like your channel. Im 18 and i think im asperger or any autistic spectrum. Its any way to know or to take any accurate idea of if i am? I have a lot of syntoms

  21. Hi Paul!
    Great analogy! Oh the energy I spent trying to fit in! Now I tell people who are close to me they have to take me as I am.
    By the way, I'm jealous: I can't juggle at all, and you do it so well!
    With eye contact, I sometimes play an internal game: I note the other person's face! For instance, the color of the eyes; how far the nose is from the cheeks and chin, etc. this gives the illusion of eye contact. I still must look away, only not quite so often. It's not a 100% perfect solution; it does help sometimes.
    Thank you for sharing with us, Friend Paul: I always learn something new, useful and interesting from you!
    Yours with fond greetings from Pennsyvania (where we are finally having Spring weather!),
    Jim Kramer

  22. Yes someone relates to me!☺ can't do eye contact with anyone. I'm always screamed at by my parents because I physically can't do eye contact with anyone so it's nice there's other people like me☺

  23. Yeah, I'm not to good with eye contact.  I've improved a lot, but its still a drain on me when I have to make a lot of eye contact in social settings.  I really like having long conversations with people on road trips, because there is no expectation that you have to make eye contact when someone is driving.

  24. Do you find it stresses you out when you are supposed to be able to read the other persons expression but you might read them wrong? I feel that way a lot.

  25. This explanation was very helpful to me. My almost-78 year old husband has Asperger’s. I frequently ask him to look me in the eye while we’re discussing something. To me, him looking me in the eye ensures that he’s paying attention to what I’m saying. NOW I understand, from what you say, WHY it’s not a good idea to have him do that! Thank you for helping me understand! (By the way, my husband Colin & I agree that it sounds more polite to call the syndrome “BUMperger’s”!! ) lol 😁

  26. I just discovered you. This is all new to me. I think my husband is an Aspie. I think you do an amazing job of explaining things. I have been very frustrated and unhappy in our marriage for years. I will keep learning. Your videos are amazing. Keep up the good work!

  27. Oh no my soul isn't in order crap crap crap don't look at it.

    Yes. Exactly that.

    Mindblowingly accurate.

  28. Hi Thank you very much for your videos it's really help me to explain my asperger to my family :). I saw on your video about the world be less autistic friendly that the screens are bothering you I just saw that there is IRL glasses that block screens. When you wear them all the screens are black apparently. You can find the presentation video on youtube. Hope it can help you.

  29. O guess my problem is that I feel extremely bored when most people arr talking and I do get easily distracted or I feel like I need to do other things while they are talking, just so I can get what they are saying.

  30. The only people that I can look into their eyes and communicate with are animals. I wonder why that is?

  31. Autism- neurotypical relations has always been about extortion. Society is literally built on lies so the individual going against the grain is typically bullied, singled out, etc. I've actually read descriptions of autists from authoritative sources include valuing honesty so obviously something doesn't add up

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