I came upon this post recently and it brought to mind some of the things that I've already been thinking about around here with Adam. I haven't had time to share since I don't post often but our little Adam, 4yo, has had speech delays and is in weekly speech therapy for the past 18 months.
When he was younger, I often worried about his lack of eye contact. I would constantly ask him to look at me while I spoke to him and he would constantly glance at me and shift his eyes away. He would look at others but not when he spoke (if he did at all) or when they spoke to him. And with rates of Autism in children increasing so exponentially these days, I was definitely concerned.
It wasn't until our wonderful speech therapist was working with him on a regular basis that she informed me that, especially in children with processing delays or fine motor problems, having to use both their eyes AND their ears to pay attention to us as we speak to them only makes it more difficult for them to process the information that we are giving them! I was quite surprised - I mean after all, we are all taught that direct eye contact is a good thing in communication, right? I had just assumed that this is how we were to teach our kids to speak/listen to others. This is the point that the post at 'Beautiful Canvas' makes - our assumption may be wrong!
Of course, I proceeded to test this out by leaning my head down to his ear and speaking instructions into his ear first, and only then, raising my head to ask that he looked in my eye to say "Ok." In the bit it took me to raise my eyes to where he could look at them, he had time to process my auditory instructions and his responses improved immediately!! The amazing workings of our Creator God in child development never cease to amaze me and in this case I was immediately grateful for the wisdom He gave dh and I about making eye contact with our kids.
I wonder, why is it that we think someone isn't hearing us if they aren't looking us directly in the eye? Why do we expect our young ones, who are still developing their communication skills, to use both auditory processing and visual processing at the same time when 'listening' to us? Because that's what our parents expected! Try to think about how difficult it can be when you are politely keeping eye contact with someone, but can't seem to remember what they said or process the correct response. Don't know about you, but this happens to me all the time!