Sense of Vision: Eye Contact

“There is life in a look at Him…” – Charles Spurgeon

Eye contact is looking another person in the eye, and without good eye contact, full communication cannot take place. It has been suggested that of all the ways we communicate with people, eye contact is the most important. So many aspects of communication rely on eye contact: attention, intent, conversational turn-taking, etc. When engaging in conversation with someone, you not only hear what they say, you see what they say. If my husband walks away to do something while I’m trying to tell him something, I feel like he is not listening to me. And you just have to think back to your dating days to know that there are those conversations where no words are spoken – everything is communicated with the eyes.

Poor eye contact is one of the most common symptoms of autism. I’m not sure when Rhema began losing her eye contact – somewhere between 12 – 15 months – but we sure knew when it was gone. She has these huge beautiful brown eyes – in fact, when she was an infant she looked kind of freakish to me because her eyes were so big. Now, when she gives good eye contact, it is like a gift, I just want to gaze into those gorgeous eyes. Some people with autism have explained that they avoid eye contact because they cannot always understand facial expressions, which can be distracting and unpredictable, preventing them from focusing on what is being said (link). But eye contact is vital, and especially in young children, the more they see, the more they will learn. Every time Rhema gives us eye contact, a connection occurs.

If you care about a relationship with God, perhaps you should consider how good your eye contact is. I have asked myself the question: How much time have I spent lifting my eyes to the Lord? Sometimes when we are trying to establish eye contact with Rhema, she will avert her eyes and gaze away. I have watched her therapist create “blinders” by putting her hands at the edges of Rhema’s eyes, so that Rhema cannot look anywhere else but into her therapist’s eyes. This always makes me think of how Jesus must often want to put blinders on me. Too often I focus on the circumstances around me instead of looking to Him, or I will regard God with that “peripheral vision” (so common in autism) instead of looking at Him straight on.

How do we get good eye contact with the Lord of Lords? I think, first, perhaps we humble ourselves and say, “Lord, I want to see you. Open up my eyes. Show me your face.” We read our Bibles. We pray. And we look for Him. He will show Himself. For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:9

It’s intimate, no question. The eyes are the doorway to the soul, isn’t that what they say? (Matt. 6:22 says that the eye is the lamp of the body). But if we truly want to know and hear the Lord better, we must look at Him. People with autism are more comfortable looking into the eyes of those with whom they are familiar – the ones they love and trust. So it can be with God. I believe there is so much He wants us to see.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Next – Sense of Vision: Joint Attention

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3 thoughts on “Sense of Vision: Eye Contact

  1. Hi there! I’m so glad you found my blog so that I could find yours! May God give you strength each and every day as you face into the tough road of dealing with autism…and a seizure disorder on top of it! My heart breaks thinking of the load you bear. I feel mine can be heavy, and I’m not dealing with near the medical issues that you are. It’s hard to be strong, isn’t it? God brings hope and steadies us through, but sometimes I feel like I’m not able to say with conviction that He is “more than enough” because the reality is that you feel so stretched sometimes. I was in the shower the other day and everyone was gone. I just screamed and cried, “God HELP ME, PLEASE! I can’t do this on my own. I need to know you’re there. Show me. I need to SEE it today. Show me in my son that you’re working.” I’m getting more bold in asking for results. Faith is believing in things that are unseen, but it also fueled by “tasting” and “seeing” that the Lord is good. Bring it on, God!

    This eye contact thing is so vital, isn’t it? You don’t realize the relational connection that takes place with simple exchanges with the eyes. When my son (now 2 1/2) started losing eye contact with us, it was so sudden and dramatic. Over about a 3-week period we could barely get a glance unless I through a blanket over both of our heads and sang to him. “If only he would look at me,” I would say. “Those gorgeous blue eyes seem somehow blank. I feel like I’m losing him.”

    I don’t know to what extent you’re doing biomedical treatment or the DAN! (Defeat Autism Now) protocol and the Gluten Free/Casein Free diet, but all I know is that I don’t know where my son would be if we hadn’t gotten all of that stuff going. His eye contact has returned so markedly in the last few months, even his therapists have all commented on how he looks intently at them, even from across the room. Just yesterday, I was talking with him about a walk we took and we saw a dog and he was barking, and he locked eyes and said “puppy-wuf, wuf” and I didn’t catch all the words, but I also caught “park” and “walk.” We were having a conversation! Other people may take these exchanges for granted, but it was like getting a long drink of pure honey. We’ve started chelation of heavy metals through oral supplements, and we are definitely seeing the veil lift, little by little.

    I’d love to be in contact with you. My email address is tahni.cullen@hotmail.com. I have a feeling that we have a lot in common. I love your daughter’s names, by the way. Just saying their names, you’re speaking the Word into them. My son’s name, “Josiah,” means “the fire of the Lord.” That’s the very thing we’re praying for–that autism will NOT steal the fire, zeal, emotion, connection from him, for he is placed on this earth to do great and mighty things for the Lord. You’re daughter’s name means “word” and “to speak.” And, she will! She will speak mighty and powerful things in the name of Jesus. The Devil can’t take the richness of communication away from our kids! Keep speaking the Word. Keep speaking her very name. We can never give up on God’s healing power to work miracles… and then let our kids be the voice and help and hope for this generation of children and their parents that are damaged through autism, ADHD, etc., etc. It’s an all-out attack on our kids, our hearts and our families, but what a testimony it would be to prevail… to recover… to RESTORE all that’s been taken. I’m being bold. I’m asking God for nothing less.

    Bless you!

  2. Pingback: Sense of Vision: Joint Attention « Autism In a Word

  3. Pingback: A Moment Captured « Autism In a Word

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