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Importance of Eye Contact – A Method of Powerful Communication

Have you ever wondered about the transformative power of eye contact in fostering meaningful connections?

For parents and teachers of autistic children, the question takes on a unique significance. 

Improving eye contact in autistic children is not merely a quest for social norms but enhancing their communication skills and increasing their interpersonal experiences. 

Let’s now learn about the strategies and insights that go beyond conventional approaches, aiming to create a supportive environment that recognizes and embraces the diverse ways in which connections can be built.

Let us understand how to improve eye contact in an autistic kid.

Understanding the role of eye contact in autistic individuals?

how to improve eye contact in autism

Despite repeated attempts, autistic children may avoid making eye contact for several reasons. One primary factor is sensory sensitivity, where direct eye contact can be overwhelming or uncomfortable. Additionally, challenges in social interaction and difficulty interpreting non-verbal cues may contribute to a reluctance to engage visually. 

Some autistic individuals might find it challenging to multitask between maintaining eye contact and processing spoken information. Anxiety, confusion, or a preference for focusing on specific interests rather than interpersonal interactions could also play a role. Understanding and respecting these factors is important for creating an inclusive and supportive environment for autistic children.

So let’s understand why autistic children avoid eye contact.

Causes of eye contact difficulties

Studies on the challenges of eye contact in autistic children reveal insights into the neural intricacies of their brain functioning. Recent research sheds light on a crucial region known as the dorsal parietal cortex, demonstrating its unique role in the difficulties autistic children face when attempting eye contact. This discovery underscores the importance of understanding the neurological basis of these challenges.

Causes of Eye Contact Difficulties:

  • Dorsal Parietal Cortex Activation: Recent studies indicate that the dorsal parietal cortex, a brain region critical for eye contact, may not activate properly in autistic children.
  • Impaired Short and Long Eye Contact: The inadequate activation of the dorsal parietal cortex contributes to the difficulty autistic children experience in maintaining both short and long eye contact, even with their parents.

Strategies for Improving Eye Contact in Autism

Individuals with autism often face challenges in maintaining appropriate eye contact, which is a key aspect of non-verbal communication. While it’s essential to recognize and respect each person’s comfort level with eye contact, some strategies can help individuals with autism improve their ability to engage in eye contact when appropriate. Here are some of them:

1. Gradual Exposure

Start by gradually exposing individuals with autism to eye contact in a controlled and supportive environment. Begin with short periods and slowly increase the duration as they become more comfortable. This gradual exposure can help reduce anxiety associated with eye contact.

2. Use Visual Supports

Visual supports, such as social stories or visual schedules, can be effective in preparing individuals with autism for situations requiring eye contact. These tools provide a visual representation of what to expect, helping to reduce uncertainty and anxiety.

3. Modeling

Model appropriate eye contact behavior by demonstrating it yourself or using videos and pictures. This visual guidance can serve as a reference for individuals with autism, showing them when and how to make eye contact in different social situations.

4. Positive Reinforcement

Implement a system of positive reinforcement to reward instances of appropriate eye contact. This can include verbal praise, tokens, or preferred activities. Positive reinforcement helps reinforce the desired behavior and encourages individuals to engage in eye contact more frequently.

5. Use Interests and Motivations:

Capitalize on the individual’s interests and motivations when encouraging eye contact. If there’s a specific topic or activity they are passionate about, incorporate that into social interactions. This can enhance their motivation to engage and make eye contact.

6. Teach Social Cues

Explicitly teach social cues and the importance of eye contact in various contexts. Break down social situations into manageable parts, discussing when eye contact is expected and why. Understanding the rationale behind eye contact can make it more meaningful for individuals with autism.

7. Practice in Familiar Settings

Begin practicing eye contact in familiar and comfortable settings before gradually introducing it in new or challenging environments. This approach helps individuals generalize the skill across different situations.

8. Provide Feedback

Offer constructive and specific feedback regarding eye contact. Focus on positive reinforcement while gently correcting inappropriate behavior. Clear and supportive feedback can help individuals understand the expectations and make improvements.

9. Individualized Approaches

Recognize that each person with autism is unique, and what works for one individual may not work for another. Tailor strategies to the individual’s preferences, strengths, and challenges to create a personalized approach to improving eye contact.

Implementing these strategies with patience and flexibility can contribute to the development of improved eye contact skills in individuals with autism, ultimately enhancing their social interactions and communication abilities.

10. Practice Eye contact during meals

You can lift the food at the level of your child’s view and your view and play some interesting sounds of trains or planes coming. This will make your child more attentive and the child may look at you in excitement and eagerness. The child will like the sound and will look at your eyes to get more fun and joy.  

11. Social stories and role-playing

Social stories outline appropriate behavior for specific situations or locations that a child may find themselves in. Usually, in the absence of a social story, a child might experience feelings of shyness, embarrassment, and confusion, leading to a lack of understanding about how to navigate the given situation. For instance, when visiting a supermarket, the child may avoid making eye contact and may struggle to express a desire for candy.

But the child will only be able to do that once the entire situation of the supermarket is described to them. If the role-play of the situation is not done before, the child will feel confused about the situation and will not look at you to tell you that they want a toy or candy.

12. Sensory integration strategies

Children with autism are either hypersensitive or hypersensitive to light, sound, texture, smell, taste, feeling of body awareness, or movement sensation. Occupational therapists design a daily sensory diet plan for the child, which may involve putting an earplug in the child’s ear to reduce sound disturbances or using a textured sponge to apply soap during bathing. Remedial measures such as swinging, aromatherapy, and massaging also help these children.

Be mindful of sensory sensitivities that may contribute to discomfort with eye contact. Adjust the environment or provide sensory tools to address sensory challenges, making it easier for individuals with autism to engage in eye contact.

13. Using technology to practice eye contact

Technology can aid in fostering eye contact with your child. Through the use of lenses, you can observe your child while dynamically generated images, such as cartoons, are displayed on the LCD screen.

This can serve as a valuable tool for establishing eye contact with a child who may not be receptive to traditional autism therapy but is captivated by cartoons and animated television shows.

14. Keep fewer distractions around while speaking to your child

Minimize distractions when communicating with your child by creating a focused environment. Engage actively in play with your child, as this fosters improved eye contact and reduces the likelihood of distractions. 

Given that a child with sensory sensitivities might be overwhelmed by tactile sensations, it’s advisable to keep the room uncluttered with fewer objects. This approach not only minimizes distractions but also enhances the chances of your child maintaining eye contact during interactions with you.

15. Give your child a reason to make eye contact with you

Motivate your child to focus on your face and forehead by incorporating engaging activities. Organize enjoyable games and actively participate in play with your child, deliberately setting up scenarios that encourage them to look upward. 

Prompt your child to direct their gaze towards your forehead and eyes, integrating play with objects to naturally draw their attention upward. This not only fosters a connection with the objects but also facilitates eye contact with your face and forehead during the interactive sessions.

16. Allow a pause for your child to respond after posing questions

Pose straightforward inquiries to your child, paying close attention to their reactions. Inquire about yourself, such as asking “Who am I,” and observe whether your child looks at you or points in your direction.

Before anticipating any form of response or gesture from your child, ensure that they comprehend both your language and gestures. This enhances effective communication and understanding during these interactions.

17. Use face painting or Animal Face Masks

Engage in face painting activities by painting your child’s face and allowing them to reciprocate by painting yours. This not only adds a fun element but also promotes better eye contact. In the event that your child is not fond of painting or is not captivated by colors, consider using intriguing animal face masks.

Many children have a fascination with animals, and wearing an animal mask may captivate your child’s attention, encouraging them to look at you in amazement. This provides an alternative and enjoyable approach to enhance connection and eye contact during interactions. 

Now that you have understood the strategies on how to improve eye contact in autism, let’s proceed to the conclusion, where we’ll explore how you can accelerate the recovery process from autism.


Enhancing eye contact is crucial for improved communication in children. While technological interventions and parental strategies may not always yield success, it’s important to recognize that the challenge of inadequate eye contact often stems from the hypoactivation of neural pathways in the brain.

With the same goal in mind, we have tried to help you by providing various strategies to encourage your child to establish eye contact. 

At the same time, you must know that therapies aimed at rejuvenating neuronal cells, such as stem cell therapy, have shown promise in helping children improve their ability to make eye contact. 

MedicoExperts, a 24/7 global virtual hospital, adopts a modern scientific approach to treat autistic patients. The dedicated team, comprising neurologists and stem cell therapists, specializes in facilitating recovery from autism symptoms within a short timeframe.

The ultimate goal is to bring a smile to your child’s face and encourage them to look at you without inhibition. Understanding the neurological aspect and seeking appropriate therapies can contribute significantly to the improvement of eye contact in children with autism.

Frequently asked questions

Q1. What causes lack of eye contact in autism?

A: Improper activation of a part of brain prevents eye contact in autistic children. 

Q2. Can autistic child improve eye contact?  

A: Autistic children can improve eye contact by regular practice and implementing right strategies and technology.



Author: Dr. Khushbu Jain

Dr. Khushbu Jain is a dedicated professional with a passion for advancing healthcare through cutting-edge treatments. She has a special interest in researching regenerative medicine and advanced treatment for diseases that are difficult to treat with conventional treatment options. Her deep understanding of these progressive treatments allows her to offer patients personalized and effective solutions for a variety of health concerns.

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