Many people with autism have hypersensitive vision, and are overwhelmed by visual input that their brains cannot interpret, leading to a mismatch between their eyes and body. This disintegration of sensory input from their eyes and body causes issues in information processing which makes it difficult to gather and derive meaning from the visual system.
This results in the forced use of less efficient means of gaining information—touching, mouthing vs. the visual analysis skills to identify details.
Children on the autism spectrum typically display a number of unique visual behaviors:
- Squints or closes an eye
- Stares at certain objects or patterns
- Looks through hands
- Flaps hands, flicks objects in front of eyes
- Looks at objects sideways or with quick glances
- Shows sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- Becomes confused at changes in flooring or on stairways
- Pushes or rubs eyes
- Has difficulty making eye contact
- Widens eyes or squints when asked to look
- Bumps into objects
- Is fascinated by lights and shadows
- Touches walls or tables while moving through space
Parents, teachers, and other professionals assume that most behaviors seen in autism spectrum disorders are simply a result of the disorder, not a by-product of vision problems. They are astonished to learn that poor eye contact, repetitive stimulatory behaviors, and practically every other behavioral symptom, could be caused by poor fixation, accommodation, or eye teaming abilities.