“Eye contact is hard to understand when it comes to autism.
For a long time, I thought Rory, my nonverbal son with autism, hated eye contact.
For a long time, I felt it somehow physically hurt him to make eye contact. So, I don’t force it.
I accept it is not easy for him to do.
Lately, I’ve noticed something different about eye contact and Rory.
I thought Rory didn’t really know who we all are. At times, he approaches other moms with hair like mine. Sometimes, he approaches other dads who are tall and thin like his dad. So, I felt he sort of glanced over us rather than really saw us.
Lately, I’ve watched my son meet a few new people. I’ve watched him stare into their eyes — when he wanted to. I’ve also known he remembered them the next time; I can tell.
My whole life, I’ve been taught to be kind and to always be polite — two traits I also want to teach my children. However, in my adult life, I have mistaken kindness and being polite for settling and accepting, when I shouldn’t always have done so.
My son doesn’t settle.
My son doesn’t accept.
My son is very cautious with his heart, something I want to teach my children to be.
Yet, my son has taught me this.
He has taught me, at risk of being rude, we don’t need to waste time on people who do not respect us.
He has taught me, when we want to see someone, we will see them…
He has taught me, although someone may stand right in front of us, they may not be there for us. They may be an illusion, and they may not really, really be able to see us.
Eye contact is a great way of communication and acknowledging something. But, as my son has taught me, it is for those who respect us. It is for those who appreciate who we are.
My son may not look at you all the time, but he absolutely sees you — as do I.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lucy Watts. You can follow her journey on Facebook and Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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