One of the first things that gets listed when mentioning how to know if someone could be on the Autism Spectrum is "Do they make eye contact during conversation?" Then the lost usually says how someone on the Spectrum just flat out can not make eye contact but never goes on to explain why. Well I will try to explain what I think the reason it was/is difficult at times to first male eye contact then maintain it during a whole conversation.
Making eye contact has always been difficult for me and is something I have to remind myself to do every now and then. The reason why it was hard for me in my early years is way different than it is now. Growing up, turning my head to look someone in the eyes, even the slightest bit, gave me this weird troublesome feeling that even today, when I am able to express myself to a degree, can only be referred to as a dizzy/vertigo feeling in the front part of my head(known to be the frontal lobe area). After many years of facing this feeling over and over again that I got used to it even though it has been felt in other situations in my life. I personally believe this to be some sort of a circuit faulting in the brain and needing to reboot. Try to think of all the things you need to process in your brain while in a conversation.
Now imagine not being able to concentrate on one face when things are going into and out of sight and not being able to shut out all the noises around you. Then it makes sense to not worry about what the speaker or other person is doing if your putting all your focus on listening to them speak to try to catch everything they say even if it means you come off as disinterested or occupied with other things. Because at least your not having a sensory overload and contributing to the conversation.
Last thought of the blog. Thinking about this topic the past few weeks and seeing the kids I work with that are on the Spectrum and have A.D.D( now jointly classified with/as A.D.H.D), I have come to a interesting thought. What if this A.D.H.D diagnosis is just a sensory regulation issue that is being misclassified as not being able to retain attention? Because since being around a few people under this diagnosis, I have witnessed times of intense attention given by an individuals attention is one of their stims. Just a thought to ponder.
Disclaimer: I do not have a medical or psychiatric background and thus all this could be completely and utterly wrong. Please do not use me as a source.
Mark Fleming- Person on the Autism Spectrum