4 year old & eye contact — The Bump
Pre-School

4 year old & eye contact

I'm wanting to get a bit of feedback on how well other four year olds are doing with eye contact. DS is not consistent with it and I'm just not sure if this is a problem at this age and something I should be working on with him or if it's fairly normal. Of course Google would lead me to believe he is on the autism spectrum, so I'm trying to avoid random internet searches! Lol

Most of the time he will briefly glance at who he's talking to then look just past them for most of the conversation with the occasional glance back to the person. Sometimes I'll say "look at me when you're talking" and he'll say he is even though he's looking somewhere else completely! I have noticed if he's far from the person he's talking to (like across the room) he holds the eye contact for a lot longer and will only briefly look away. If we're up close and talking he wasn't a to look everywhere but at me. 

Just curious if this is common at this age or if I should be diligently working on it as a skill or if it seems concerning enough to bring up to his doctor. 
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Re: 4 year old & eye contact

  • DD looks away alot, especially in busy situations b/c she is so afraid she is going to miss something else.
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  • A special education teacher that I was talking to told me that a lot of kids that age are uncomfortable with direct eye contact with an adult, especially if the adult is standing really close to them.  I've noticed that my DD makes much better eye contact with adults if she's standing a few feet away than if she's within a few inches.  The woman I was talking to said it can feel overwhelming for them.  I don't notice DD avoiding eye contact with peers.
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  • DD1 will make eye contact with me but gets distracted very easily. I'd say it's relatively normal at this age.
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  • Thanks for the feedback everyone. It really seems to be mostly with an adult and when they're talking closely to them. In those instances he'll turn his head and look away while talking.  Like I said if I'm across the room or just a couple feet away he maintains the eye contact longer.

     @fredalina we definitely have the power struggle too when I'm trying to tell him something important then he purposely won't look at me!  

    I can see how maintaining eye contact at a close range may be uncomfortable or overwhelming especially when talking to an adult. I'll have to pay attention to see how he does when interacting with friends....  
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  • We have to remind my 4-year-old to look at someone to say "hello" and "thank you", particularly adults. It drives me nuts but I agree with others that it's neurotypical - I think it's part of the shyness that I'm also seeing my 4-year-old display with adults.
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