Autistic listening: no eye contact please!

woman left eye

Eye contact can be an issue for a lot of us Autists. Looking at someone’s eyes when you talk to them is such a strange concept but in a lot of cultures it is considered rude not to use eye contact. 

Personally, I find it difficult to listen to what is being said if I am looking at the person. It is harder still to process what is being said.

I always have so much going through my mind and I feel so much sensory stimulus from the environment that talking to people can be really difficult and overwhelming. I find it hard enough to keep up with conversations without having to add unnecessary body language which doesn’t mean anything to me.

Sometimes, when processing lots of information (in a meeting or at Uni) I close my eyes so I can I can focus on what is being said. I also find fiddling with objects or moving whilst being spoken to helps with my concentration.

It is often seen as incredibly rude not looking at people or doing other things whilst in conversation but that’s how conversations work for alot of us Autistic folk.

If I do ever feel like I need to show ‘eye contact’ when meeting new people or during an interview, I often look at the person’s mouth. It’s a lot less intense but still shows I’m listening. I also find I ‘hear’ the words better whilst lip reading.

So when an Autistic person  doesnt look at you during conversation, we’re not being rude, we’re listening!

Remember, you don’t need eye contact to listen to the radio!

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