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Please reply to this thread. When I try to make direct eye contact when interacting with NTs, I feel uncomfortable, and I become overstimulated and stressed in social situations. I have some questions.

1. Why do we autistics become overstimulated and stressed with making direct eye contact when interacting with NTs?

2. Why are social situations stressful for us autistics?

3. Do you feel uncomfortable and stressed with making direct eye contact when interacting with NTs?
 

Nitro

Admin/Immoral Turpitude
Staff member
Admin
V.I.P Member
Please reply to this thread. When I try to make direct eye contact when interacting with NTs, I feel uncomfortable, and I become overstimulated and stressed in social situations. I have some questions.

1. Why do we autistics become overstimulated and stressed with making direct eye contact when interacting with NTs?

2. Why are social situations stressful for us autistics?

3. Do you feel uncomfortable and stressed with making direct eye contact when interacting with NTs?
Question time.
How do you know that they are NT?
Did you ask for their psych assessments?
 

Billthecat

Active Member
Please reply to this thread. When I try to make direct eye contact when interacting with NTs, I feel uncomfortable, and I become overstimulated and stressed in social situations. I have some questions.

1. Why do we autistics become overstimulated and stressed with making direct eye contact when interacting with NTs?

2. Why are social situations stressful for us autistics?

3. Do you feel uncomfortable and stressed with making direct eye contact when interacting with NTs?
I tend to look them straight........ on the nose, no one minded yet
 

Azul

Member
How do NTs feel when you don't look them in the eye (direct eye contact)?

Here's an excerpt of Temple Grandin's book "The Autistic Brain", regarding some patterns in the population:

Avoiding eye contact. Different than a preference for objects over faces, this is the active avoidance of faces. A 2011 fMRI study in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders found that the brains in a sample of high-functioning autistics and typically developing individuals seemed to respond to eye contact in opposite fashions. In the neurotypical brain, the right temporoparietal junction (TPJ) was active to direct gaze, while in the autistic subject, the TPJ was active to averted gaze. Researchers think that the TPJ is associated with social tasks that include judgments of others’ mental states. The study found the opposite pattern in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex: in neurotypicals, activation to averted gaze; in autistics, activation to direct gaze. So it’s not that autistics don’t respond to eye contact, it’s that their response is the opposite of neurotypicals’.
“Sensitivity to gaze in dlPFC demonstrates that direct gaze does elicit a specific neural response in participants with autism,” the study said. The problem, however, is “that this response may be similar to processing of averted gaze in typically developing participants.” What a neurotypical person feels when someone won’t make eye contact might be what a person with autism feels when someone does make eye contact. And vice versa: What a neurotypical feels when someone does make eye contact might be what an autistic feels when someone doesn’t make eye contact. For a person with autism who is trying to navigate a social situation, welcoming cues from a neurotypical might be interpreted as aversive cues. Up is down, and down is up.

It says "might", but it is interesting.

Perhaps asking directly is a good strategy?
"Hi. Do you like (not) looking people in the eyes? Nice. How does it feel like?" But then people would be baffled. I'm joking, but asking close and non-weirdable people is still an (bad?) idea.
 
Yes, I am forced to try to mask my autism/pass as NT in public or in social situations. It makes me exhausted and tired at the end of every day. Being autistic in an NT world is similar to trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
 

Suzanne

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I think I am a little bit better with eye contact, since finding out that I am on the spectrum. I am able to have eye contact now, as long as I feel comfortable with the person, whom I am talking with.

As for feeling stressed in social situations. I hazard a guess here. It is because of over sensitivies with noise and movements from other people and lighting. I also feel very alone in a crowd, due to wanting to join in, but not able to join in.
 

Fino

Alex
V.I.P Member
Yep, me too! It's because we're autistic, the answer to every question you've ever asked.
 

Luca

charm & chaos
V.I.P Member
I can't really tell if people are NT or not just by looking at them or having a short interaction, maybe once I get to know them, but since I seem to be good at masking I wouldn't be surprised if other people I know are also masking.
But I'm not trying to start a conspiracy theory saying everyone is secretly autistic LOL

This might be a bad analogy but people can't usually tell exactly what race I am by looking at me. I have kind of an ambiguous skin tone and hair color.
So it could be the same with people who are autistic or NT. Some autistic people might be really good at masking which makes it more ambiguous too.
I hope that makes sense?

But I don't have a lot of difficulty with eye contact, as long as it's not someone like staring directly into my face with prolonged eye contact which is kind of weird anyway.
 

SusanLR

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I've always had difficulty with eye contact.
It's something I never thought about though and no one except a teacher in 6th grade ever mentioned until the therapist I was seeing for grief counseling ask about it.

She had been asking a lot of questions and observing me during our talks on
things that pointed to Asperger's to her.
She never mentioned it until one day we were sitting by the pool talking and
my eyes just automatically averted to the pool instead of her when responding.
She told me to look at her instead of the pool when I talked.
First time anyone had called me out on that.
I looked at her in my response and she asked if that was difficult.
I told her yes.

She had been keeping a score card like on things she saw that seemed like
Asperger's and told me I should go for diagnosis.
It all made sense.

I can't tell when the person is NT or ND just meeting them, but I can answer your questions on how looking someone in the eyes makes me feel for as long as I can remember.
The answer for me to your questions would be because the aversion is a way of
not making close connections with others.
I've always been pretty much a loner and even surrounded by people I feel alone.
That's just my answer and that's why it makes me stressed out.
I would have to feel fairly comfortable with the person. That means knowing them
for quite some time and it isn't easy for me to get to know people.
 

Progster

Gone sideways to the sun
V.I.P Member
Eye contact is uncomfortable for me, and the reason is because it it makes me feel exposed, it's too direct. It's hard work. Much easier to look at an object instead of eyes.

If I don't look at a person, then they often think I'm not listening to them, so I look at them but I their mouth or chin. That does the trick in most cases.
 

Atrapa Almas

70% INTJ + 30% ASPIE = 100% HUMAN
V.I.P Member
Please reply to this thread. When I try to make direct eye contact when interacting with NTs, I feel uncomfortable, and I become overstimulated and stressed in social situations. I have some questions.

1. Why do we autistics become overstimulated and stressed with making direct eye contact when interacting with NTs?

2. Why are social situations stressful for us autistics?

3. Do you feel uncomfortable and stressed with making direct eye contact when interacting with NTs?

Lets see, all what I am going to say its according to what I have learnt plus my own point of view:

1: We are overstimulated because the game is not actually look at the eye, but read microexpressions to so read what the other person is feeling and thinking WHILE we listen to what they say WHILE we mixt that info with what we know of the person, the eviroment, the culture, etc... all in real time. So it is a multichannel skill. NT excells at multichanel skills. We just dont filter enougth to multichannel properly like NT. We get trapped by the details of one channel, and we can process way more info of just a few channels and for much longer time and way more deeper as long as its not multichannel.

So, we do look to the eyes and we get trapped there so our proccesing skills drop, and if we move from eyes, to take into account the full face, our proccesing skills drops even more, is we add the tone of the voice we may be unable to listen. If we listen we may be unable to look to the eyes... Its too much for us, eyes are so deep, faces too complex, so basically its because our brains get fried with multitasking and that is because we dont filter information the way NT brains do, so we overload.

2- Social situations are multichannel, multitasking and need to make supossitions all the time. NT brains are wired to do that, while we are wired for focus on one thing to go deeper and deeper in that one channel thing. NT brains get fried doing that one only thing.

3- Depends on what I am talking about. If the person is in my close circle of trust (my wife, my daugther) I may talk about lots of things because I dont need to be aware of the social game. Its safe to talk. So I can look them in those cases. If there is anger, crisis resolution, etc. Then I avoid direct looking to concentrate on what they say to focus on their needs and on my own needs and how to say them so I dont escalate the problem. In those cases I dont have proccesing resources left to look at their faces all the time.

When I talk with other people I may close the "what I do feel" door and look them more, to the eyes, then to the mouth, to their hands, back to their eyes. I have learned that if I spend too much time at their eyes they feel "menaced". I also look at their posture, and try to adjust mine to somehow mirror theirs. I ask related questions to dont loose my attention and show understanding.

If the person I am talking to is attractive to me, then I am in problems. I then want to just fill my senses with every detail at the same time and my mask cracks, I have problems behaving not weird.

The good thing is that many NT males have those same problems and dont look where they should be looking when talking with attractive women.
 
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Progster

Gone sideways to the sun
V.I.P Member
1: We are overstimulated because the game is not actually look at the eye, but read microexpressions to so read what the other person is feeling and thinking WHILE we listen to what they say WHILE we mixt that info with what we know of the person, the eviroment, the culture, etc... all in real time. So it is a multichannel skill. NT excells at multichanel skills. We just dont filter enougth to multichannel properly like NT. We get trapped by the details of one channel, and we can process way more info of just a few channels and for much longer time and way more deeper as long as its not multichannel.
I think that this is true. I don't multichannel. I've noticed that when I'm talking, I'm focused solely on talking and expressing myself that I don't process any other incoming stimuli from my environment. I'm certainly not reading microexpressions or subtle body language. These are lost on me. When I'm following a conversation just as an observer, I notice facial expressions, intonation and body language a bit more, but I still don't pick up on a lot of these cues, I simply don't see it or don't process it. When I'm talking, I don't see - or I see without processing.
 
I usually look at people's forehead wrinkles especially the little ones between the eyes. Straight up eye contact just makes me loose my trail of thought its like a wierd spell. I sometimes make eye contact when someone's talking to me if I'm masking hard. But I still can't do it when I'm talking. I tend to find with people I'm comfortable with I don't look at their faces much at all I just sort of forget too.
 

Leo Zed

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Eye contact can be a big problem for me. I had a professor who thought it would be funny to do imitations of me on the last day of class. I thought it was very disgraceful to say the least. I seem to make others uncomfortable. Many people begin to look away from me after the few beginning moments of a conversation. When I do look people in the eye, I tend to over do it. People’s reactions makes me feel like a freak. I can’t understand why I do exceptionally well in my studies, but I can’t hold a simple conversation. Drives me nuts.
 

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