If you ever get a chance to hang with Finley, you may notice that she sometimes “looks” at you peripherally. Particularly when the situation is intense. Doctors have asked us to work with Finley to “let us see her eyes” to help facilitate communication. And this has always bothered me. I fight it every time I hear it. What I want to do instead is ask her, “Finley are you hearing what I am saying?” Because that is what matters most – is she able to listen in that moment. Sure, common social rules dictate that eye contact is a non-verbal form of communication we all readily understand. It conveys listening and attention. But that doesn’t mean it is the only way.
Shayla Hearn writes an autism parenting column for the Geek Club Books Penfriend Project.
Photo credit: Shayla Hearn