Thursday, August 2, 2007

Hand-Eye Coordination: it's not what you think

Different people have different takes on MK's eye contact. In past assessments it has come up as an issue, his teachers have listed it as an issue, and I have always felt it was an issue, but his psychologist does not think it is in any way underdeveloped and his tutors point out how good it is.

Recently, I've come to see that this issue is not eye contact per se, but eye to hand contact. The thing is that some things get explained by hand gestures. We say, "It moves like this," "It was about this big," "The road is really flat, then it goes up and down," "You need to put the string all the way around the outside," etc. Sometimes there are verbal cues that suggest the person we are speaking to should look at our hands, but on other occasions, we cue people to look at our hands only by looking at them ourselves. This is what MK does not get.

We will be having a conversation, and we will get to one of these hand gesture places, and MK won't look. I will do some sort of thing with my eyes (I'm not sure what it is, because I can't see my own eyes) which would cause another person to look at my hands, and MK will not respond. It makes me want to say, "Look at me," or "Look at my eyes," (those are the phrases that jump into my head) but what I should be saying is "Look at my hands."

Following on this line of thought, I notice that MK himself very rarely uses his own hands to communicate. This ties in to something Bev was saying. She mentioned that it was frustrating not knowing how to non-verbally indicate that she wanted the floor in a conversation. Analyzing my own behavior, I think it is largely down to hand gestures.

I wonder to what extent reading and using informal hand gestures is difficult for folks on the spectrum other than MK.

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