I think it’s understandable to recommend advice for people who struggle with eye contact, so they can better integrate into a society that has a lot of really unfair rules. But I think the better goal in the long-term is to educate people and normalize not making eye contact.

I’m Autistic, and eye contact is possible for me, but draining and sometimes unpleasant. It can be a major sensory or emotional overload at times, especially if I don’t get breaks from it. Many of my fellow Autistics can’t do it at all.

Like people with anxiety and people with PTSD, we get labeled suspicious or socially inappropriate for failing to do something that is totally arbitrary. In some cultures eye contact is even considered presumptuous and rude and overly familiar! So while I can’t blame anybody who tries to get better at eye contact for the sake of not being misjudged, what I choose to do, and what I hope others will join me in doing, is fighting against the stereotype and informing people that those that avoid eye contact are not dangerous or shady or untrustworthy — we just work differently. And that’s a beautiful thing.

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