Creating an, “Eye Contact Rocks” type of mind set, will help intensify what we do to encourage our children to want to look at us. Sometimes our desire for our children to grow their ability to verbally communicate, read and write, or play with their peers can be stronger than our desire for them to increase their eye contact. The way to change this is to see Eye Contact for the amazing skill it is. Eye contact sets the scene for learning so many skills. It sets the scene for forming a particular word: when you look at someone you can see how they move their mouth to create the word. It sets the scene for conversation skills: when you look at someone it lets the other person know that you are talking and listening to them. It sets the scene for facile expressions and understanding social cues: how can our children learn these and what they mean if they are not looking at people?
Above all else when our children look at us they get to see the love we have for them. They get to see and feel the warmth of social interaction. If we saw it as an important pivotal skill that will help our children grow in leaps and bounds socially, then we would probably nourish it more, and celebrate it more consistently and effusively when we received it. Eye contact will grow and thrive the more consistently and effusively we value it.
~Kate Wilde -The Sonrise Program
The value of eye contact in this program has been an integral part to Lucas’ growth. Through the techniques of this program, we inspire our children to look at us. And when they look, we celebrate!! This encourages more looking. The more they look, the more they learn!
Lucas had fleeting eye contact, at best, 6 months ago. He now looks over 80% of the time he is in the room with our team and out of the room. That is probably more than a neurotypical person does these days…lol!
Along with that increased eye contact has come some unbelievable growth. Growth that we have not put emphasis on, naturally occurring. Lucas is speaking in long and varied sentences. He has the ability, and more importantly THE WANT, to communicate his needs,thoughts and interests. He is interested in facial expressions, human contact and connection, and is imitating!
Imitation is such a basic skill for a neurotypical child, but one that can be almost impossible to pull out of a child on the spectrum without some sort of coercing or prompting. Imitating is how children learn, grow and relate. It is something that is naturally happening now with Lucas thanks to our team, this program and of course valuing eye contact!