Be advised that many children with Asperger's will not be as successful as they could be when given instruction if they are required to make direct eye contact concurrent with your delivery of instruction. Many parents command direct eye contact of their neurotypical children by saying something to the effect of, “Look at me when I'm talking to you.” Society has ingrained the belief that if you make direct eye contact in conversation, you are listening carefully and paying close attention. The twist is that for the child with Asperger's Syndrome, the opposite may very well be true.
In some cultures it is a show of respect not to make eye contact while in conversation with others. The next time someone does not make direct eye contact with you, try to pay attention to the thoughts that enter your mind. You may find that some or all of your negative thoughts are socially conditioned.
The child with Asperger's who is across the room from you and appears not to be listening may be taking in nearly all — if not everything — you are saying, as opposed to the child who is compelled to make direct eye contact to “prove” he is paying attention. Why would this be so? Remember that your child is likely extremely visual in how he assimilates and absorbs information. When you speak, your face is in constant motion and there are many, many visual detractors, such as your eyes and glasses, your hair, your jewelry, your mouth, saliva, tongue, and teeth, and your clothing, not to mention other contributing factors like your breath and cologne.
Your child will be tremendously challenged to pay attention and listen if he is distracted by one, some, or all of these visual details. Your child will be faced with complying with the social expectation of making direct eye contact every day outside his own home. Reflect carefully upon your ability to be flexible where direct eye contact is concerned, especially when giving directions. Your child may surprise you. If you feel that direct eye contact is nonnegotiable in your family, then find compromise in:
Seeking opportunities to make direct eye contact attractive or appealing, such as holding some favored item up near your face, while requesting eye contact.
Accepting your child's need to make fleeting eye contact, look away, then look back.
Accepting your child's “ballpark” approximation of direct eye contact if he stares at your ears, mouth, or some area of your face other than your eyes while you are talking.
Accepting your child's need to look away from your eyes in order to formulate a thoughtful, articulate response.