Before Bianca regressed, her eye contact was nothing short of incredible. She has the biggest eyes and she would look at me with such intent and curiosity that I knew she was absorbing everything coming her way. Just locking eyes with her from across the room would make her light up like a Christmas tree.
At some point in her regression, like most autistic children that particular characteristic went away. In fact, she started going out of her way to avoid it. At first I tried to make her look me in the eyes. After some research, I quickly learned that was probably not the best course of action. I would just let her do what she felt comfortable doing. If she felt like looking me in the eyes… so be it.
You do miss it though. What is it about that particular part of our anatomy that conveys so much? She would often come close. She would watch my mouth a lot; stare at my nose… but the eyes? Very rarely.
An interesting thing has been happening though. Bianca, in her attempts to communicate (which are increasing almost every day) has been looking me in the eye. It seems as though she is trying to will her desperate pleas for “candy” “juice” “cucumbers” “bread” into my brain via her eyes. She says the word as she signs it… and is looking me in the eyes.
We had an exchange a few weeks back where she was sitting on the potty, and I heard her say, “A… AYE… Apple”. So I asked her if she could name a word that began with the letter B… she said “Bear”. I was stunned. I heaped tons of praise on her and asked for a C word… “Cat”. I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
I thought maybe they had done this routine at school and she was just scripting, so I asked Bianca, “Can you give me another word that begins with the letter C?”
We did this all the way through the alphabet. I even woke my wife up from her nap halfway through so that she could eavesdrop on what was going on. I was so proud of her, but what was even more interesting was that when she would answer me she was looking at me in the eye.
I forgot how much I missed it. How much I loved it. How CONNECTED it felt. I have two NT kids, so you would think I would already know, but because each dynamic with each kid is different, the expectation was never there with Bianca. I accepted that she doesn't look me in the eye and I found our connection in other forms of expression.
Believe me, we are VERY connected. She is a daddy’s girl through and through. That said, when she allows me to make eye contact with her… I feel like we are one. I feel like we are on the right path.
If you like what you have seen and read, please take a few seconds and vote for Lou's Land as one of Babble's Top Autism Spectrum Blogs. (Though I think this site is all kinds of messed up)