Autism and eye contact; is there an autism treatment that can improve eye contact for children with autism? Or why do they look out of the sides of their eyes (side glancing)? What about the cause of visual stimming or looking at toys and people very closely (sometimes moving like a camera lens in and out)?
How Brains Learn to See – Autism and Eye Contact:
Years ago I watched a Ted Talk called How Brains Learn to See. Dr. Pawan Sinha discovered that children with autism have impaired visual processing. As a result, children have impaired visual motor planning and subsequently oral motor planning leading to symptoms of reduced eye contact in autism. Motor planning is needed for tracking dynamic visual information and for expressive communication. As a result of treatment visual motor planning improves consequently improving eye contact.
Visual Motor Planning and Autism and Eye Contact Treatment:
Difficulties with motor planning is a core issue in autism which results in the concerns seen in autism with eye contact. That is why the stronger the motor planning, the stronger the communication, social and learning skills. So how do we support motor planning in children with autism spectrum disorder?
Firstly, we need to assess and treat the reason for visual processing impairment. And in order to do that we need to look Dr. Meg Megson‘s research. Dr. Megson is a fellow DAN (Defeat Autism Now!) and MAPS doctor (Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs), and she has postulated that the visual deficits in autism are related to damaged G proteins. Her research and clinical experience has lead to using a special form of vitamin A to improve visual motor planning. As a result of treatment, side glancing, eye contact, and visual stimming improves. Moreover, treatment improves expressive communication and social interaction.
Autism Treatment of Visual Motor Planning improves eye contact:
The first step in biomedical treatment of autism is to address the visual motor planning impairment that leads to the problems with eye contact in autism. When treated, this opens the door to other gains in terms of language (it helps to see someone’s mouth move when you are learning to speak), social interaction (seeing people’s facial features is crucial to appropriate social emotional responses), cognitive (most learning skills rely heavily on visual processing) and behaviour (processing the visual information surrounding you increases quality of life and reduces frustration).