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I'm having some trouble with this. First of all, my daughter has severe language delay <i>and</i> SPD (which causes her NOT to want to make eye contact). The language delay makes it necessary to *make* her look at my face/mouth when I'm speaking to her, particularly when it's an instructive moment. The SPD makes it very stressful for her.<br><br>
So, my problem is that I feel like I <i>need</i> to require her to look at me, for lots and lots of reasons, not the least of which is that she really needs to in order to progress in her language, but I feel so so so awful physically turning her face toward me. I do it as gently as I can, but very often it's just a horrible sad moment. I try getting between her and whatever it is that she's looking at; I try getting as close to her as possible (without scaring the sh*t out of her); I try picking her up and holding her close to me. Each of these works some of the time, but nothing really is consistent.<br><br>
Does anyone have any experience with this kind of thing? I mean, how do you *force* (I know, I know, I know, this is an awful word) your kiddo to do something that is so necessary?
 

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I think that making our children do something that they cannot do, esp when it is more for us then them, is something WE need to change within us, not the child..<br><br>
I do understand how you feel on many many levels. My daughters both have TS and SID.. and there are just some things that I cannot expect them to do, and believe me i have wanted to try to force it to be different.. and it ended up making things so much more worse. Esp for my child. I learned that I had to change what ever it was in me, that wanted to change that part of them. And just by doing that, it made us each stronger in our own SELF. And that to me, is more important that whatever it was i was trying to change to please me.<br><br>
Love and Light~
 

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DD has a language delay (although she's nearly at age level now). Her EI speech therapist did not prompt her to look at her when she was talking. The private speech therapist did sometimes, but didn't push it when DD wouldn't.<br><br>
I think there are ways to teach language without forcing eye contact/ looking at the speaker's mouth. I used signs in combination with words (it was more comfortable for DD to look at my hands than into my eyes). For unknown reasons, this seemed to help her understand what I was saying better than not using any signs.<br><br>
If your speech therapist is insisting your DD needs to make eye contact to improve her language skills, I think you should look into maybe getting another therapist who is more adept at using a variety of techniques.<br><br>
Also, regarding eye contact... that improved with DD without pushing her by simply playing with her A LOT on the floor, particularly giggle games that involved physical contact. DD hated when I looked at her, even when nursing she would not look at me and would push my face away. Now she is pretty comfortable with it. I got the feeling that looking into my eyes was just way too much stimulation for her (too much input) and she needed to choose when to look and when not to, and that when she was caught up in giggly play she felt more comfortable. Also playing goofy games like making funny faces helped her feel more comfortable looking at my face. She also loves a game where we put on an exaggerated emotion (e.g. I'll make a face you try to guess what I'm feeling!) and cracks up at my "mad" face.
 

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With an autistic boy I had in class, we would put our fingers under our eyes and say "Up Here". It took a long time for him to learn that, but since all of his caretakers had the same phrase, it was pretty successful.<br><br>
I think just finding a new way to say "look at my eyes", will work better.<br><br>
Besides... "Look me in the eyes" sounds like it should be followed with "You are getting verrrrrrry sleeeeeeeeeepy"
 

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When I have a client who does not make eye/mouth contact, we work with him/her to create controlled situations in which he/she does want to make contact, and in which contact becomes an integral part of the communication process. This way, the decision to make the contact is on the part of the child, rather than with us forcing it.<br><br>
This means that we spend a lot of time playing and creating situations in which we have items the client wants or do activities the client really enjoys and make eye contact - not necessarily looking us in the eye, just joint attention in general - part of the activity.<br><br>
Perhaps the child likes doing a puzzle - I'll have the pieces and hold each one up by my face as he/she communicates a desire for the piece. Or I'll blow bubbles and wait for him/her to look at the wand by my mouth before blowing. Or I'll do something like tickling or blowing on the skin and wait for eye gaze before doing it again.<br><br>
Another activity we do is to play in front of mirrors. Some children are more comfortable looking at us in the mirror rather than face to face, and we can teach more forms of communication this way. For example, one boy loves to play with water in the bathroom sink. So he stands on a step stool and we stand next to him, and we look at each other in the mirror as we communicate about the faucet, the water, and the bucket.<br><br>
I have several clients who made almost no joint attention during communication when we started, and when we stopped, used a LOT of spontaneous joint attention as part of communication and play.<br><br>
ETA: You probably also want to cross-post this in special needs parenting.
 

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<div style="font-style:italic;">I think there are ways to teach language without forcing eye contact/ looking at the speaker's mouth. I used signs in combination with words (it was more comfortable for DD to look at my hands than into my eyes). For unknown reasons, this seemed to help her understand what I was saying better than not using any signs.</div>
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Visual cues work really well with DS. This way he sees the communication without having to look the speaker in the eye. I will hold my hands close to my face so his field of view includes it.
 

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my second child was very much like this. what I found worked for us was to sign. he watched my signs and my mouth without looking at my eyes. eye contact is definatly not 100% necessary.<br>
i know this can be tough you will find what works.
 

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I can really relate with how you feel mama, cause we were in the same boat. I really, truly felt that I needed to make ds at least look me in the face when I was talking to him because that was the only way he'd understand/pay attention. Trouble is, if the kid is hating that action they're still not giving you the necessary attention. This turned into a painful waiting game. I had to just let him be, get real close and tell him what I needed to tell him, and say things like "I don't know if you heard me because you weren't looking at me" and "it makes me feel sad when you don't look at me when I talk to you, and I worry that you didn't hear me." Slowly he'd start to respond affectionately when I told him how I felt about it (turning toward me and looking at my body/face/mouth, or sometimes a hug or a smile). It was just too stressful for him to do and I was simply expecting too much of him.<br><br>
He now looks at my face when I talk, and when he doesn't I can say "look at me, please" or "look at my eyes" and he'll look and it's ok, but that takes time.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks y'all.<br><br>
I know that there are expectations that I just can't have - so I'm not sure that it's a change <i>in me</i> per se, that needs to happen. ('Course, I always need to be changing!) This understanding is really part and parcel of having a child with special needs (Grace's go WAY beyond just this, but are mostly more physical than cognitive.) The reason I believe that she truly needs to look at my mouth (which is really what I should have titled this post) is that her issues are mostly in articulation - she has NO consonants. When I have her study my mouth, and even better, when I can get her to touch my mouth/throat, she has more success mimicking the sounds.<br><br>
Sometimes I can get her to look at me by saying "where's mommy's mouth." She'll point to my mouth then, and I might have a couple of seconds to work on the artic.<br><br>
Having a child with SN just so often flies in the face of my GD ideals. I HAVE to mess with her in ways that she doesn't like, that, probably to her feel like a physical violation, just to, literally, keep her alive. These things have involved everything from changing her tracheostomy tube (which, thank god, she no longer has!!! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">) to feeding her through her g-tube, both of which made her miserable and which she fought valiantly against. I had/have to restrain her to do what was/is necessary. Because of this, I really do let a lot of other stuff slide because I want to give her as much physical autonomy as possible.<br><br>
Anyhow, I've spent lots of time in the SN forums, but wanted to get a purely-GD perspective because I figured this was an issue that even moms of "typical" kids have to deal with.. Thank y'all very much for the suggestions - I really do appreciate them!!
 

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wow, I just re read my reply to you and judging by the words and not the intention behind them, I would totally say i was being an jerk!<br><br>
I am so sorry! I did not mean to come across that way, so harshly. I just wanted to share with you my experience in trying to make my child do something they they just cannot do yet and how it usually backfires and when i sit down to really se the situation it usually looks like i was trying ot change someting in them to please me and the rest of the world, and that then to me means that I am not truly accepting them as they are. My children do into make eye contact, however as they get older, they seem to be more willing to in smaller spurts. They were just not ready to before. Yes they are nearly 8 now, far beyond the rest of the worlds standards for looking someone in the eyes when they speak, but hey.. for us took a little longer. and thats ok too.<br><br><br><br>
Like you needed more mommy guilt! Which is something that us moms of SNK have an over abundance of already. I am so sorry to add to that..<br><br><br><br>
Love and Light~
 

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<div style="font-style:italic;">Sometimes I can get her to look at me by saying "where's mommy's mouth." She'll point to my mouth then, and I might have a couple of seconds to work on the artic.</div>
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How would gently taking her hand and putting it on your mouth work?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>charmarty</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11951243"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I am so sorry to add to that..<br><br>
Love and Light~</div>
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Thank you so much for your note. I appreciate it very much. I do sometimes feel very embattled for the ways in which I have to "modify" AP to fit our SN life. Peace & <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/hug2.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Hug2"><br><br><div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>natensarah</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/11960352"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">How would gently taking her hand and putting it on your mouth work?</div>
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That works sometimes. She is pretty resistant to uninvited touch, though, so it can sometimes be more of a pain in the booty than a help. But, yeah, I need to try more of that.<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 

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We do that w/ ds1. He's got Asperger's Syndrome and SPD. I've always told him, "Look at my face." Whether he chooses to look in my eyes or at my mouth is up to him. I, personally, find it easier to look at ppl's mouths because I can 'hear' them better. (Also Aspie.)
 
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