On a recent Saturday afternoon I was on Facebook and poking around in an Asperger’s group I’m in when the topic turned once again to lack of eye contact and the social repercussions from this egregious sin against humanity.
This one particular person ended up being arrested after a traffic stop because he wouldn’t look the officer in the eye and even after identifying that looking people in the eye made him extremely uncomfortable, this person was arrested and told he must have a reason to be nervous if he wouldn’t look the officer in the eye.
This person was cuffed, booked and immediately released.
This is just one story of a person on the spectrum who has trouble making eye contact. Luckily it’s not as big a deal for me as it is for others, but I’ve known people who are so terrified to make eye contact with someone that it makes them physically shake.
The biggest hurdle we face with this situation is the reaction we get from the neurotypicals (those without autism) that we’re dealing with.
We get anything from people rolling their eyes at us to them making disparaging comments about our character, our upbringing, our guilty feelings and so much more.
FYI, we don’t see the eye-rolling happening since we’re not looking them in the eye. People tell us.
Why do people have to deal with this disrespect because of something in many cases that they physically can’t control? Why are others so judgmental when someone is paying attention to the conversation, participating, coherently in the conversation but just not looking the other person in the eye?
Some people call them traits, and I sometimes do as well from time to time, but I prefer to think of myself as quirky and not weird, so the way I look at it, not looking people in the eye is a natural quirk that some of us have and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
With all that being said, should those of us who have the eye contact problem work to overcome it? Absolutely.
Just as we want the neurotypicals to accept us for who we are and to learn about our ways, and us we need to do the same. It’s a give and take. We learn about you and you learn about us.
I know there are some that have strong opinions regarding this, so I want to hear from you. Positive or negative, let’s hear your opinion on the subject.
A version of this post appeared on Good Men Project under the Not Weird Just Autistic Column on October 28, 2018.
Follow Not Weird Just Autistic on Social Media