Why autistic people often avoid eye contact

by Beatrice Credi - 2017.06.19

People with autism often avoid eye contact. Often other people think they are being shy or indifferent, or that it is a sign of social awkwardness. But now, in a a study published in the journal Scientific Reports researchers have used brain scans of autistic patients to back up their complaints that eye contact is stressful and uncomfortable for them. They found that eye contact overstimulates the brain of an autistic person. Dr Nouchine Hadkikhani, author of the study, said: “The findings demonstrate that, contrary to what has been thought, the apparent lack of interpersonal interest among people with autism is not due to a lack of concern. Rather, our results show that this behavior is a way to decrease an unpleasant excessive arousal stemming from over-activation in a particular part of the brain.” So, forcing children with autism to look into someone's eyes in behavioral therapy may create a lot of anxiety for them.

Published in Autism, Mental disability.
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