Anna Chung is a Paediatric Behavioural Therapist specialising in Autism and developmental delay. She shares about the importance of eye contact and its effect on developmental communication.
Eye Contact is one of the most rudimentary modes of communication. It is sometimes referred to as eye gaze or eye to face gaze. It serves as an important social function for young children even before vocal responding begins to develop.
There are different types of eye contact and they all contribute to the way children develop. Dyadic eye gaze is when one individual looks at the other person and triadic eye gaze is when both of you are looking at a shared object or third party.
Both of these eye gazes are fundamental to communication. A deficit in these areas may be early indicators to Autism spectrum disorder and/or developmental delay.
Research has also shown that poor eye contact may adversely affect the educational gains of children due to the relationship between eye contact and attending to the teacher and instructional demands. This is because eye contact occurs really early in development and serves many functions for the young child. To communicate with their carers, teachers, their peers and their surroundings.
In early development, eye contact serves to regulate face-to-face social interaction and contributes to the way that we communicate in social interactions. The lack of eye contact in early development could potentially hamper a wide range of social learning. Therefore it is important for carers to promote eye contact at an early stage.