Autism or Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behaviour and is estimated to affect about 1 in 54 children. Around 50% of the parents notice autism features by the time their child reaches 12 months and the remaining notice symptoms by 2 years.
“Lack of eye contact” is one of the common autism features. Children with autism are less likely to look in someone’s eyes, implying that they are less engaged with others or less responsive to people in general. And pushing for eye contact will result in even more lack of eye contact. Then let’s see how to encourage your autistic child to make eye contact, and how should the child’s avoidance be managed without causing anxiety or stress.
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What is the importance of eye contact?
Making eye contact is very vital for communication. It implies a communication partner’s interest, attentiveness, or consideration. During a conversation, making eye contact with another person may signal that you are interested in what they have to say and that you care about being in the conversation and with that person at that time. It demonstrates that you are also paying attention.
You may also pick up on social signs by making eye contact. You may utilize what you see in someone’s eyes to understand more about their experience, such as what they’re trying to say or how they feel.
When you don’t make eye contact with someone who is attempting to connect with you, they may think you aren’t interested in what they have to say or that you aren’t even listening.
Some reasons for lack of eye contact:
Why individuals with autism avoid or have reduced eye contact, is the question asked for a long time. Children with autism features appear to avoid eye contact for a variety of reasons, including:
- They frequently lack the usual social motivation that encourages other children to make eye contact.
- May not realize that looking into another person’s eyes is more revealing than looking into that person’s mouth or hands.
- It’s difficult to concentrate on both spoken language and another person’s eyes at the same time.
- Eye contact can be a very intense and alarming sensory experience for some children.
Ingredients that may help to improve eye contact:
According to experts, anything that is good for the brain is likely to be good for autism and autism features like eye contact. Below are a list of the essential nutrients and ingredients recommended as part of a healthy ASD diet.
Ashwagandha has a strong affinity for GABA receptors. As a result, Ashwagandha can be used to treat Autism symptoms such as eye contact, memory loss, anxiety, and attention deficit.
Brahmi is a brain superfood that is believed to sharpen the brain by protecting cells and increasing chemicals involved in learning and memory. It acts on the CNS, where it improves grasping power, eye contact, memory, intellect, and speech, as well as correcting emotional, mood, and personality aberrations in an individual.
In order to improve brain functioning, shankhapushpi is an old remedy. The powerful antioxidants and flavonoids present in it improve the memory capacity, focus, concentration, calmness, alertness of an individual. Since it is a brain tonic and stimulator, people taking shankhapushpi have improved autism features like eye contact, memory, reasoning, problem-solving, and other cognitive abilities.
Protein is an essential component of a healthy diet. It helps to build, maintain, and repair body tissues. It is also necessary for brain health and plays an important role in neurotransmitter production (brain chemical). G protein also regulates cellular signalling and is essential for retinoid receptor function, laying the groundwork for healthy visual processing.
OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS:
There is a link between omega 3 fatty acids and early childhood brain development, according to research. These healthy fats have incredible brain-boosting properties and play an important role in improving autism features like eye contact, memory, and attention span. Fish and walnuts are excellent sources of omega 3.
Magnesium is responsible for nerve transmission and nerve-muscle coordination in our bodies. In other words, it guards against a child’s excessive excitement (which can be traumatic). It also increases the effectiveness of vitamin B, which is important in the production of enzymes required by the brain. It may improve eye contact and reduce behavioral issues.
Zinc is a mineral that our bodies require in trace amounts. Because our bodies do not store zinc, we must consume small amounts of it on a regular basis to maintain our health. It is required for proper brain development and function, immune function, protein synthesis, and wound healing.
All nuts, including almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, and hazelnuts, are high in vitamin E and aid in memory enhancement. They are also antioxidants that protect cells from damage. Walnuts are high in omega 3 fatty acids and are beneficial to eye contact, brain function, memory, and cognitive abilities. This fatty acid is also beneficial to cognitive functions.
Aside from nuts, seeds such as flax, chia, melon, sesame, and pumpkins contain potent antioxidants such as vitamin E, which protect the brain from free radical damage. Sunflower seeds have an effect on overall mood and mental processing abilities, so they are regarded as a brain-boosting snack. Pumpkin seeds contain more magnesium, copper, and zinc than other seeds, which aid in eye contact, concentration, and memory. One of the simplest brain-boosting foods for children to consume.
Pure cocoa powder (unsweetened) contains brain boosting components as it is packed with a large number of antioxidants molecules, the main is epicatechin helpful to improve cognition in studies. Hence cocoa powder is also an important brain development food for children.
Tips that help you to encourage your child to make eye contact:
If your child has been diagnosed with autism or autism features, therapy can begin to help him or her develop or improve their general communication skills. While developing eye contact will receive some attention, and for that, you can try these tips.
- Try to make appropriate eye contact with your child; always turn to your face when speaking to him/her.
- Blowing bubbles and then waiting is a common method for provoking eye contact.
- Touching your child’s chin gently can serve as a reminder to look, but DO NOT DRAG YOUR CHILD’S FACE ROUND TO MAKE THEM LOOK.
- You could say, “Look at me,” if your child is cooperative and understands what you mean.
- When your child is on the swing/rocking horse, etc., stand in front of him or her. Stop the swing every now and then and say “Ready, set” – wait a few moments in the hope that they will look at you and then say “Go.” You can encourage a “Go” vocalization as they turn to look at you more readily.
- Make eye contact with your child in a variety of ways. Do not nag him or her with “Look at me, look at me.”
- Bring an object/toy up to your eye level to encourage them to look. He or she may initially only look at the toy, but eye contact will gradually emerge.
- When some children engaged in gross motor activities like swinging or tickling they feel relaxed. During these activities, the child may make spontaneous eye contact.
- Appreciate all random eye contact by saying “Good looking.”
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