Saturday, January 9, 2016

Eye Contact & Autism

Eye Contact by Manu34
This post is for all my female friends out there working hard to overcome autism, although the issue of eye contact is probably the last thing you want to read about today. After all, you've probably been told no less than a million times how impolite it is to not look at someone when they are speaking. 

Well, I experienced an interesting twist on this a few weeks back. My friend asked me look at her with more intention when I was speaking. Honestly, I don't find making eye contact to be difficult, but the prospect of becoming emotionally transparent probably made me avert my gaze more than I realized. 

In short, I still did what she asked and just a few minutes into our next get-together, all I can say is my emotions suddenly got an entire makeover! I continued to speak, but the whole time I wondered, "What in the world is going on here?" I couldn't wait to get home and research what happens with our brain chemistry when we simply look into the face of a trusted person during a conversation. 

Honestly, I have been so in the dark about eye contact that I've only considered it a social construct to communicate politeness to others. Really--that's it. I apologize to many of you who already know what I've only just discovered, but if I can reach even just one soul who has been as clueless as I've been, well, this post will be worth it. 

In short, looking at a trusted person or even a beloved pet for a few minutes or more releases a truckload of neurotransmitters in our brain that do a world of good for us. I used to go back and forth on the issue of brain chemistry and autism--wondering if parts of the brain didn't work at all and thus could not produce neurotransmitters, or if they just had to be primed a lot like old water pumps but would eventually work again. Well, I'm convinced more than ever of the latter (so keep on practicing those boring social skills), because when your brain starts working the way it should, life takes on a whole new meaning!

By the way, looking at someone's left eye in particular is what sets off this whole pleasant hormonal cascade in your head. Just an FYI there in case any of you want to really try looking at somebody else when you sit and talk with them.

Dr. Caroline Leaf repeatedly states that our brains are hardwired to love and be loved. The more I learn, the more I see how right she is! This is what life is all about.

Blessings to you today! 

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