The Reasons for Avoiding Eye Contact: Too Little Ability to Connect or Too Much?

It may well be that some (or all?) autistic children and some (or all?) of the ever-expanding population of people being classified as belonging somewhere on the autism spectrum, however far along toward “normal,” have a similar problem. They avoid eye contact. But avoiding eye contact may also be a sign of “too much” connection to others, not too little.

As a child Susan avoided eye contact with others as much as possible. Why? Two reasons. One, she could see in the eyes of others what they thought of her and that was too painful to see. Two, others could sense that she was “reading them” and they did not like her looking in their eyes. She knew that too.

Even today, Susan, who has no innate difficulty making eye contact, is careful not to do it too much. Her eyes seem to read too much and others have some sense of that, so it makes them uncomfortable. Making others feel uncomfortable is not polite and doesn’t win one friends.