It Was Super Interesting To Witness
By A Friend • September 13, 2023
We took our cousin with autism to a convention, and he made sustained, appropriate eye contact for the first time in his life - with a cosplayer wearing full black contacts.
We have a cousin with autism, he is pretty high-functioning but he has many noticeable "autistic" traits, the most observable of which is his inability/unwillingness to make "normal" eye contact when talking to people. We make sure hang out with him from time to time and do various things, like go play kickball, walk around the mall, etc. This time we went to a convention. We were walking around, and he was having a good time and being his normal self. When he approaches people and talks to them, he looks down at the ground or closes his eyes for several seconds.
There were many cosplayers there. One group of cosplayers we ended up having to stand by for a few moments as we waited for a group of people to pass. We ended up saying hi and asking them about their characters etc. I noticed that our cousin (let's call him Nate) was actually looking at one of them directly, which is very rare for him. The only reason I initially noticed was because it was so out of the ordinary for him to actually look at someone's face/eyes. Anyway, she was very kind, and asked him his name, if he was having fun, etc. He made direct, sustained, and "normal" eye contact with her for the entire conversation. She was wearing some kind of all-black contacts that cover her entire eyeballs, including the white and colored parts. I assume there is a hole in the middle for her to see through, because she was looking at all of us and moving around etc so she could clearly see. (I did some googling and apparently they are called "black sclera contacts".) Anyway, Nate held eye contact with her the whole time, looking her directly in the eyes. I know it probably doesn't seem like a big deal, but for Nate it was extremely unusual for him to actually look someone in the eye.
We didn't want to make a big deal about it to Nate because we didn't want to make him feel self-conscious or overthink it, but we tried to ask him some questions about his conversation with her, and how he felt about it. He said that she was "really easy to talk to", so we asked why, and he said he liked talking to her because her eyes were "soothing" and made him feel relaxed.
Anyway, just wanted to share. I don't mean for this to imply that this would happen to or work for other people with autism, it was just an interesting anecdote and I didn't know where else to share.
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