Tip for eye contact problems

Yesterday, we were at a social gathering with a sizable crowd. Afterwards my partner asked me if she maintained eye contact well during her conversations. She said it still didn’t feel very natural to her, so I gave her this piece of advice.

When talking to someone (especially in a louder environment, or when you’re with multiple people) and you have trouble maintaining eye contact, you can turn your head so that one ear is facing the speaker. Tell the speaker that this helps you hear them more clearly, or that you are hard of hearing in one ear. These are completely acceptable reasons not to have eye contact; after all, hearing what the speaker says is more important to a conversation than having eye contact.

Is This Normal? Hearing Yourself Blink

My partner often asks me if something she experiences daily is normal or if it’s due to her autism.

In this case, she asked me if I can hear my eyelids every time I blink.

Personally, I can only hear them when I’m very sleepy, my surroundings are dead silent, and only when I intensely focus on the sound.

My best guess is that it has something to do with normal people being able to filter out sounds better than people with autism. I’m also guessing that when normal people get tired, this filtering weakens to the point where they hear and feel more than they normally do.

Rude “Why?”

Yesterday, my partner asked me if replying “Why?” to a (simple) request or statement is considered aggressive to normal people.

Simply put: a “why” is often a request for justification, not an explanation.

As with anything, not only are the words important; inflection is key. A downward or flat inflection indicates a period at the end, while an upward inflection indicates a question. Short or single word responses can easily come off as overly defensive or aggressive if followed by a downward or flat inflection.

An example:
“My hobby is collecting bugs.”
“Why?”

When delivered with a downward or flat inflection, the why sounds judgmental to normal people and implies disapproval. Now they need to justify what they just said.
If it were delivered with an upward inflection, the why could sound inviting and imply interest.

Another example:
“Can you clean the table?”
“Why?”

In this case, it’s a simple request or question. Normal people do not expect a question in response to a request/question. This automatically implies hesitation or refusal.
This is even furthered if delivered with a downward or flat inflection. In that case, it comes off as arrogant, aggressive or even hostile.
Even an upward inflection will seem strange to a normal person, as it is still an unexpected response. This will most likely leave them confused or baffled by the response.

As the goal is not for them to justify themselves, but more information, I advised her to formulate her question in a way that stresses her request for more information, and which would be less impacted by the wrong inflection.

A few examples:
“Can you (please) explain why?” is enough to offset the implied aggressiveness, but may still imply hesitation. The optional please is to further offset the possibly perceived aggressiveness.
“Can you (please) explain your reasoning?” should leave no room for misinterpretation. You are now asking for their though process, instead of a justification.