If you asked me what has been Pookie’s most noticeable development since starting school, I would have to say “eye contact.”
Lack of eye contact is a significant Autism warning sign. But with an active 2-4 year old, it can be hard to recognize. Sometimes he just seemed to “busy” to look at us. Now that we know, we understand that Pookie did have a problem in this area.
However, he has made incredible progress. I think its because we implemented a few techniques:
1. Get down on the kid’s level. We make it easy to look us in the eye.
2. Demand eye contact. We stare at him until he stares back and talks directly to us, not at our general area.
3. When having a conversation, really have it. We do not look away and stop the conversation until he does.
4. When the child is really distracted, bring them back into the moment. We ask Pookie “where are my eyes? look at my eyes.” He usually responds by trying to literally touch our eyes, but at least it brings him back into the moment.
5. “Good Looking at me!” This is what Pookie’s teacher says to him when he makes good eye contact. He enjoys the praise.
After several months of these techniques, we have seen incredible improvement. He makes requests directly to the proper person, with eye contact. He answers simple questions, holding up a basic conversation. Sometimes, he will literally grab our faces and turn us to meet his gaze, as he is doing with his Papaw above.