For Those With Autism, Eye Contact Isn’t Just Weird, It’s Distressing

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Published by: Science Alert
Written by: Mike McRae

For many people with autism, avoiding eye contact isn’t a sign that they don’t care – instead, it’s a response to a deeply uncomfortable sensation.

Researchers have discovered a part of the brain responsible for helping newborns turn towards familiar faces is abnormally activated among those on the autism spectrum, suggesting therapies that force eye contact could inadvertently be inducing anxiety.

Autism spectrum disorder is a term used to describe a variety of conditions that make communicating and socialising a challenge, and is often accompanied by restricted and repetitive behaviours.

A defining characteristic of autism spectrum disorder is a difficulty in making or maintaining eye contact, a behaviour that not only makes social interactions harder, but can lead to miscommunication among cultures where eye contact is taken as a sign of trust and respect. Click here to read the rest of the story