This is Part 5 of 10 of My Venture Into Asperger’s and it is a biggie for me. As usual I will start out with a personal story and then show how that links into Asperger’s. This post is primarily about my struggles with eye contact.
To most people eye contact, that is looking into the eyes of the person you are talking to, is a normal process. To me it is quite painful and it always has been. It is as though I am looking into that person’s soul and that is just someplace I don’t want to go. Whenever I do it it is almost as if I freeze up and stop thinking. I have never understood why I feel this way when so many others don’t.
Even in my early childhood I imagined that something was seriously wrong with me. Why was eye contact so painful? As I got older I managed to have “roving eye contact”. That is I would occasionally glance into someone’s eyes while mostly looking elsewhere . That worked pretty well for many but then there were those who almost glared at me when I did that.
As I was graduating college and ready for the job interviews I knew I had to do something as people would find out I was defective during an interview if I didn’t look them in the eye. Fortunately it didn’t take too many interviews before I landed a job. I almost took the first offer officially given in order to not have to do anymore interviews. Looking back I think the lack of eye contact was also probably one of the reasons I had few second dates.
When I became deaf at the age of forty in some ways it was almost a God’s send. I could now just watch a persons lips and therefore didn’t have to look into their eyes. People would understand that was what I had to do and therefore not expect eye contact. It actually made my life a little easier, at least in that issue…
Now lets see how this relates to Asperger’s:
An Aspie Point of View — Eye contact hurts.. no, not in the painful sense but it’s quite uncomfortable. I always feel that I’m revealing more than I want to with eye contact and that I’m receiving more information than I want to know.
This was my primary “aha” moment in my discovery of Asperger’s. I found out that my pain in making eye contact was not just me but others felt it too. It was soothing in a way to understand it might be a neurological problem shared by others. I wasn’t totally weird after all. This revelation started my journey where I discovered many other personal aspie characteristics.
I like being a unique person and in a way Aspergers helps me be just that. Wouldn’t it be boring if all of us were the same? I am now half way through this planned ten part journey into Aspergers but maybe it will go beyond that point and into a regular weekly post. It is that important to me and I hope you will get some additional insight into this syndrome.