Eye contact, facial expressions and gait in Asperger's

By Jessika Endsley

Transcript

Hi. This is Dizzy. I'm going to talk about eye contact and body language in Asperger's syndrome. Personally, I have a severe issue with eye contact. There's a lot of people, well, females, with Asperger's that don't have as much of an issue as the males do with eye contact. I don't make eye contact, it just doesn't happen. A lot of times I end up with people kind of looking behind them, they're looking around trying to figure out what I'm looking at and then I am like, "No, there's nothing. There's nothing there." [chuckle] I don't really know how they take that, but there's nothing there. So I do a lot of eye darting or just staring in one spot, especially if people are right in front of me. If they're to the side of me, things are a lot easier. Anyway, this is pretty common for us anyway, to not be able to make eye contact.

Another thing people do will be to make very, very intense, prolonged eye contact which is also inappropriate. I did that more when I was younger, in my teens. But I went from childhood not being able to make it, to making it too much, to not making it again. So, now I only make it if I'm mad usually, which really makes sense considering humans are the only animals that don't have eye contact as an aggressive element. So maybe for us we just see it as aggressive, or at least I do, apparently. So yeah, there are techniques people use to try to make it a lot less noticeable. These don't really work for me but staring at another spot on someone's face works for some people. It doesn't work for me. Having bangs like this kind of works though. People don't know where I'm looking at. Also, there's a technique that I saw for people who just have issues with eye contact, it wasn't necessarily Asperger's. Staring at the bridge of the nose, which I think is right here or something like that. That can make you look cross-eyed, just saying, but if you can pull it off, go for it. So that's a common issue with everybody on the autistic spectrum. Just seems like females don't have it as badly as maybe a lot of males do.

Now we have body language. People with Asperger's are known to be clumsy, but as far as our body language, tend to be rigid or have inappropriate body language such as a stiff gait, walking without moving your arms, that kind of thing. Yet again, I think it's more characteristic for males. I can be pretty stiffened out with my body language, or I'll be over-dramatic, and mostly I have child's body language. You all don't really get to see this because I'm sitting down in my videos but maybe one day I won't be, and you'll see that I tend to clasp my hands and do a lot of awkward things that's kind of very childish. Of course then I start speaking and people are like, "Oh, you're not a 14. You know big words." But anyway, usually it's walking without moving arms that a lot of Aspies do, or kind of seeming robotic.

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And the facial expressions, that's a thing. Kind of known for not having any facial expressions, or for having one or two very strong facial expressions, looking mad for no reason, not even being mad; that's just what your face is kinda stuck on. I haven't run across anybody who's constantly smiling like crazy except for myself when I'm funny in my own head. Nobody knows what I'm smiling like crazy at. Yeah. Then it looks like I'm insane. I'm not. But anyway, that's usually what happens. Usually it's just blank for most people who have Asperger's and it stays blank. Having a blank face when there's nothing going on isn't really weird, but having it when there is stuff going on is kind of weird, just a little bit weird, at least to people who are looking at us. It's not weird in itself because it's characteristic of what we have and our syndrome. So yeah, a blank face without eye contact. That's one thing we have going on. And then we start walking and there's something, maybe not as apparent if you're a female, unless you do have the stiff gait without the arms swinging, like they're apparently supposed to. I guess I don't pay enough attention.

As far as like body language showing parts of your personality, and this is kind of going off in a different direction entirely, people with Asperger's don't have a specific body language for their individual personality. And yes we do have individual personalities; we are not all the same. When I was in the hospital, one of the people there knows a lot about body language and knows something on PD, and he said, "That guy's arrogant and you can tell from this, this and this." And I was like, "Huh," 'cause I can't read people. And I was like, "What does my body language say?" He said...

It was so weird 'cause he was so right, he was like, "You're guarded, you're protecting yourself, slightly paranoid, not trusting." And I was like, "Bingo! How'd you do that?" And he said 'cause my arms were crossed, my legs were folded, etcetera, but never mind. It was really cool. I have to learn how to do that. There's classes for it, apparently. But, yeah, anyway, that was random, but it was kinda cool. So if you have Asperger's, learn to read body language. That might help us some, so look it up. I need to.

Anyhow, that's eye contact, body language, facial expressions, etcetera. I'm not going to get into the whole monotone voice thing. So everybody, if you have weird idiosyncrasies, put them in the comments or something. Have a good day.

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