If you have a teenager on the spectrum, a lot of your life is probably based around helping your child develop social skills for autism. Typically, the social aspect of life is what teens with autism struggle with (along with other challenges). Much of autism is still a mystery to us, but a recent study may have just brought us closer to understanding part of it.
Why eye contact is difficult for those with autism
Many individuals on the spectrum find eye contact to be fairly uncomfortable and difficult to do. For a long time, it’s been assumed that this lack of eye contact was due to social indifference rather than something else, but a new study has discovered it may be something much deeper than that.
A group of researchers at the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital found that many with autism reported eye contact being stressful or even hurting them–which led them to believe there was a neurological cause behind it.
Nouchine Hadjikhana, MD, PhD, corresponding author of the new study, explained what they found:
“The findings demonstrate that, contrary to what has been thought, the apparent lack of interpersonal interest among people with autism is not due to a lack of concern. Rather, our results show that this behavior is a way to decrease an unpleasant excessive arousal stemming from overactivation in a particular part of the brain.”
The part of the brain is the subcortical system–and this study basically discovered that many of those with autism have an over sensitive response when it’s activated, which is what makes eye contact difficult.
This research has unlocked a part of autism we didn’t understand fully, getting us closer to developing better ways to engage with individuals with autism and how to help form social skills for autism. Understanding the mechanisms beneath eye contact for those with autism can help us create more effective interventions.
If you believe your teen is struggling and needs help with social skills for autism, it’s important to seek out a professional for further guidance.
Seven Stars is here for your family
Seven Stars is a program that treats teens with neurodevelopmental disorders. We combine residential treatment with adventure therapy to create a multifaceted, effective program for adolescents, ages 13 to 18, struggling with emotional and behavioral issues as a result of their neurodevelopmental disorder.
We embed the objectives we have for each student into daily activities and teach emotional wellness skills such as conflict resolution, problem solving, social skills, academic skills, self-efficacy and prosocial behaviors. At Seven Stars, we strive to help our students develop the skills necessary to live full, productive lives.
For more information about how we help with social skills for autism at Seven Stars, contact us today at 844-601-1167
Since 2003, Dr. Gordon Day has passionately helped young people with a wide range of family, emotional, social, neurodevelopmental and behavioral problems. Gordon’s mission has been to help people find their strengths and their own passion for living a full and rewarding life. He is particularly sensitive to the pressures, frustrations and disappointments that adolescents face that can sometimes cause them and their loved ones to want to withdraw and throw their hands up in despair.
Dr. Day knows that you really have to understand where a student is coming from and understand their patterns of strengths and needs. When we truly know an individual and their struggles, only then can we truly help.
Dr. Day has pioneered the use of outdoor therapy activities and outdoor living as a dynamic and effective therapeutic tool for learning, confidence building and skill building. His programs provide effective, supportive and encouraging environments that help students find their strengths and power.