Sunday, July 8, 2007

Look Me in the Eye

Where do Aspergians look when they don’t look you in the eye?

There’s a whole chapter about this in my book, in which I say – among other things - “I look at the ground, so I don’t get distracted.”

Since I wrote those words, several people have offered more insight into where we gaze while we are thinking about something, and why. Here is a hypothesis for your consideration:

Visual thinkers – those of us who think in pictures – gaze up, into the sky.

Musical thinkers, those who think in terms of sounds – gaze sideways

And people who think in logical sequences – reasoning thinkers – gaze down.

Many Aspergians are like me – very logical. Do we all gaze down as a result? Is there anything to the above hypothesis? It’s something to ponder. Can you learn how a person thinks from where their gaze wanders when they’re thinking?

Can you infer it from their words when they respond to you? “I see,” or “I hear you,” or “I think that means . . .”

I think there may indeed be something to this idea.

8 comments:

Holly Kennedy said...

Hmmmm, maybe this hypothesis has some merit. I tend to look up when I'm searching for the rights words to finish a thought, visualizing in a way, although I believe I also do this because my mind is often ten steps ahead of my mouth, which means I sometimes fumble my thoughts verbally and come off sounding like... an airhead.
Not a good thing!

irene said...

Since my son was dx'd I've noticed that MANY people are not comfortable looking people in the eyes when having a one-on-one conversation. I've known a few people who actually close their eyes for more than a third of the time they are speaking. When they are listening their eyes are open but when they speak, the eyes are mostly closed.

I have noticed that with strangers I tend to not look them in the eyes either, for things such as "excuse me" or "oops sorry" or "thank you" for an elevator or a door, etc.... With someone I know I can look them in the eyes but really, it's looking at their face with lots of little flutters to the left or right. I'm sure there are or could be VOLUMES on theories.

Tena said...

When someone says they "get" what you're saying, I wonder how they're synthesizing the information. Verbal, aural, visual, etc. Maybe when you "get" something you're blending the senses? I dunno. Just musing here.

Chumplet said...

I wonder if my sister gazes in circles, since she's an artist and a musician?

Michelle O'Neil said...

Yes, so when we force someone to "look us in the eye," we might actually be forcing them into a place of not being able to follow our conversation.

It's a fine line, teaching our kids what is socially acceptable vs. teaching them to advocate for themselves.

"I'm not trying to be rude, my brain processes differently so I hear you better if I don't look directly at you."

appletini said...

Many of the children that I have worked with that have Aspergers and Autism do look at the ground.... hmmm, interesting.

John Elder Robison said...

Appletini, this is a good question. Do Aspergians, being logical thinkers, look DOWN as opposed to up or sideways, when they look away?

I hope I can get some insight into this because I think there may well be something there

The Anti-Wife said...

I always look down when I'm searching for answers and I'm a very logical thinker. Very interesting post!