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Autism Corner: Should You Be Teaching Eye Contact to Children with Autism?

[Source:  Mary]

Many children with autism struggle with and have poor eye contact. Both parents and professionals often wonder if we should focus on teaching eye contact, and, if so, how to teach this important nonverbal skill. Today I’m going to get on my soapbox about autism and eye contact.

When my son Lucas was first starting ABA, Applied Behavior Analysis, in 1999, I was surprised to see that some ABA programs included a “Look At Me” program. Our consultant didn’t recommend this program back then, and I’m not sure if she didn’t like the program or if she didn’t think Lucas’s eye contact was bad enough to work on at the moment. Even today, there are Behavior Analysts who are using some variation of the “Look At Me” program. I think it’s actually a bad idea to focus so heavily on teaching this, especially to children with autism who have delayed language skills.

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