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Out of curiosity...

Neia

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
For those who have difficulty in maintaining eye contact with others, do you ever find your gaze kind of "sliding" all over the place in the head region of tge person you're talking to?

Now that I have been confronted with the possibility of being autistic, I've started realising that this rude thing I do is probably a characteristic of autism.

I was told, when I was 13-ish, that only cynical people don't look others in the eyes.
Since I didn't want to be cynical, I started trying hard to maintain eye contact when talking with someone.

But my eyes don't want to stay put.
They kind of slide around to the person's eyebrows, nose, ears, hair line, mouth and teeth. I usually spend a lot of time looking at the other person's teeth and wondering if they notice what I'm doing, and if they are feeling offended by that.

I force my eyes back up to the other person's eyes, but seconds later... there they go wandering around the head of the person again.

I could identify some people just by their noses 😆
 
When I was a kid how to properly look people in the eye when talking to them was a lesson we were taught in school and I never had an issue with it, but I don't remain staring at their eyes. Instead my vision shifts to a wider focus so that I can monitor their hand movements and body language as well while still maintaining the pretense of looking them in the eye. I like to have an idea of what they're thinking while they're talking to me.
 
I'm deaf, so this question to some extent has never applied to me, because I'm either staring at someone's signing hands or a speech-to-text application on the phone.

To be fair - in sign language - you are supposed to look at someone in the eyes and "watch" the signs in your extended visual field. But that's just never worked for me personally. I have to look at the hands to process the signs.

But I have noticed my "default" preference is to stare at something where the least activity is happening, such as the wall or floor. So, for example, if I'm in a crowd, I'll either stare at the space on the ground ahead of my feet, or at the sky.
 
When I was a kid how to properly look people in the eye when talking to them was a lesson we were taught in school and I never had an issue with it, but I don't remain staring at their eyes. Instead my vision shifts to a wider focus so that I can monitor their hand movements and body language as well while still maintaining the pretense of looking them in the eye. I like to have an idea of what they're thinking while they're talking to me.
I was never taught that.

I only realised that how I looked at others wasn't "normal" when I was told that only cynical people look at others "from underneath" 😕
Can't quite think of the right way to translate this idiom.
 
I'm deaf, so this question to some extent has never applied to me, because I'm either staring at someone's signing hands or a speech-to-text application on the phone.

To be fair - in sign language - you are supposed to look at someone in the eyes and "watch" the signs in your extended visual field. But that's just never worked for me personally. I have to look at the hands to process the signs.

But I have noticed my "default" preference is to stare at something where the least activity is happening, such as the wall or floor. So, for example, if I'm in a crowd, I'll either stare at the space on the ground ahead of my feet, or at the sky.
If I'm in a crowd I'll try to be "invisible".
It's amazing how well that works.
And I'll also find my hands or clothes quite interesting all of a sudden.
 
But I have noticed my "default" preference is to stare at something where the least activity is happening, such as the wall or floor. So, for example, if I'm in a crowd, I'll either stare at the space on the ground ahead of my feet, or at the sky.
The thousand mile stare? That's what some people call it when I drift off in to a daydream. Sitting on a crowded train one day on my way home from work I got jabbed in the knee and pulled out of my dream by an angry woman. "Why don't you just take a photo?" she asked. As my eyes swam back in to focus I realised I was looking at one of the ugliest women I've ever seen with hair like a bird's nest. I said "I should, my mates would never believe me." and went back to my dream.
 
The thousand mile stare? That's what some people call it when I drift off in to a daydream. Sitting on a crowded train one day on my way home from work I got jabbed in the knee and pulled out of my dream by an angry woman. "Why don't you just take a photo?" she asked. As my eyes swam back in to focus I realised I was looking at one of the ugliest women I've ever seen with hair like a bird's nest. I said "I should, my mates would never believe me." and went back to my dream.
Definitely resonates, although not quite in the same way. Awesome story btw.

Fun fact - faces are a hardwired part of the brain, to the extent that they have determined with newborn babies that newborn babies recognize a general oval-shaped head along with three regions corresponding to the eyes and mouth/nose area - think like the three spots on a coconut. They did this by tracking the eyes of newborn babies that had never seen a human face otherwise and varying the granularity of the "fake" face they showed. In doing so, they arrived at the conclusion that newborns are hardwired to recognize "coconut" patterns on an oval.

Anyway, I think that my handicap makes me much more sensitive to face/movements. The best way to enter sensory overwhelm for me personally is to be forced to watch a high-motion occurrence - which, unfortunately, is common if you have young kids. So in your example, I'd probably be staring at the window above that woman's head. I don't consider it common among hearing autistics by any means - who seem much more affected by sound.
 
The thousand mile stare? That's what some people call it when I drift off in to a daydream. Sitting on a crowded train one day on my way home from work I got jabbed in the knee and pulled out of my dream by an angry woman. "Why don't you just take a photo?" she asked. As my eyes swam back in to focus I realised I was looking at one of the ugliest women I've ever seen with hair like a bird's nest. I said "I should, my mates would never believe me." and went back to my dream.
That's why I tend to either look at my hands or stare out of the nearest window if I'min a trai ir bus. 😬
I'll be daydreaming quite often, or rehashing some torturous conversation over and over in my head, but my eyes will be looking at something "safe"
 
Personally I avoid eye contact because it feels uncomfortable. Sticking your tongue on a 9v battery sensation to the brain. I CAN if required, especially if other emotions are strong enough to drown the sensation out, but in general pleasant discussions I tend to avoid.
 
I don't consider it common among hearing autistics by any means - who seem much more affected by sound.
In the story above I started by looking out the window but I was in a completely different world after just a few minutes.

A big problem with hearing is that it can't be shut off. With sight you can look somewhere else or close your eyes. Hearing is all directions at once and can't be shut offf.
 
Definitely resonates, although not quite in the same way. Awesome story btw.

Fun fact - faces are a hardwired part of the brain, to the extent that they have determined with newborn babies that newborn babies recognize a general oval-shaped head along with three regions corresponding to the eyes and mouth/nose area - think like the three spots on a coconut. They did this by tracking the eyes of newborn babies that had never seen a human face otherwise and varying the granularity of the "fake" face they showed. In doing so, they arrived at the conclusion that newborns are hardwired to recognize "coconut" patterns on an oval.

Anyway, I think that my handicap makes me much more sensitive to face/movements. The best way to enter sensory overwhelm for me personally is to be forced to watch a high-motion occurrence - which, unfortunately, is common if you have young kids. So in your example, I'd probably be staring at the window above that woman's head. I don't consider it common among hearing autistics by any means - who seem much more affected by sound.
I escape loud sounds by plugging my ears with ear-buds and playing my favourite podcast episodes. I play them a little louder than I should, but it helps me cope so🤷🏻‍♀️
Is it strange that I can drown out sounds that cause me anxiety with the loud sound of my favourite podcast?

I can't stand the sound of a windstorm, but will be able to fall asleep with my favourite podcast blasting my ears to drown out the wind. And will sort of sleep well-ish.
 
I can't stand the sound of a windstorm, but will be able to fall asleep with my favourite podcast blasting my ears to drown out the wind. And will sort of sleep well-ish.
I love going to sleep in a nice warm bed while there's a storm raging outside, but I was also homeless for 12 years so I guess that's to be expected.
 
I love going to sleep in a nice warm bed while there's a storm raging outside, but I was also homeless for 12 years so I guess that's to be expected.
I don't mind the sound of rain, it's the howling of the wind that gets to me.
 
I don't mind the sound of rain, it's the howling of the wind that gets to me.
Being out in the wind frustrates me and makes me angry. That was one of the things I loved about living in the tropics, no wind. You'd get a sudden gust just before rain hit but other than that it was always very still. Except for cyclones, they were exciting but not exactly in a good way.
 
Being out in the wind frustrates me and makes me angry. That was one of the things I loved about living in the tropics, no wind. You'd get a sudden gust just before rain hit but other than that it was always very still. Except for cyclones, they were exciting but not exactly in a good way.
I remember once when I was 15, I got out of school with my friend and we started walking home when a strong storm hit. We had to walk for about 30 minutes on a regular evening, but that time it took us almost three times longer because I had a full-blown meltdown.

I just couldn't stand the wind and rain anymore. I stopped leaning against a wall and crying in despair.

My friend stayed with me the whole time and then walked me home. I'll never be able to thank her enough for that.
 
I just couldn't stand the wind and rain anymore. I stopped leaning against a wall and crying in despair.
I never understood why but being in the wind aggravates me, it makes me angry to the point of wanting to let go and be violent. I get exactly the same when my neighbour plays doof doof music, after just a few minutes I'll be pacing up and down angrily and wanting to punch holes in walls, or through the neighbour's head.

He knows that now. :)
 
I can't stand that kind of music either. And some idiot is playing it loud enough right now 😬😖
Makes me want to scream!

I'm in my home, it's 6:30 am and some idiot has decided to blast is music for the whole neighbourhood to hear.
 
I'm in my home, it's 6:30 am and some idiot has decided to blast is music for the whole neighbourhood to hear.
Noise cancelling headphones help, but they get annoying to wear after a while. You can't sleep while wearing them either and I tend to get grumpy if my sleep is disturbed. Complaining to my rental manager at 3:00 am while the noise was happening did the trick, she doesn't like getting woken up in the middle of the night either. :)
 
There are times when I can see 'eye to eye' so to speak. But usually don't. If I am looking at their face during a conversation, I'll start really studying their face to try to grasp the entirety of what they are saying. Looking for the emotion behind the rhetoric. This intense studying then causes me to lose track of the conversation. Game over!

I don't really get the idea that eye avoidance is part of cynicism?
 
I don't really get the idea that eye avoidance is part of cynicism?
Different cultures have different ways of looking at this, no pun intended. In most European or derivative cultures if you have your head tilted downwards and are looking up through your eyebrows at people it's subconsciously seen as an attempt to hide your facial expressions. It's seen as an attempt at subterfuge.

With traditional indigenous peoples in Australia who live a hunter gatherer lifestyle looking an animal directly in the eyes is how you know what it's going to do next. So to them constantly watching their eyes is a sign that you don't trust them.
 

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