Olley Edwards – Thoughts on ‘Look At Me’ the interactive camera app for children with autism

Olley Edwards

Olley Edwards

Look At Me – In December Samsung launched its Look At Me interactive camera app, ‘designed to create a shared community to connect families with similar experiences. This project hopes to facilitate meaningful connections between parents, caregivers, and their children, as well as to foster connections between the 200 families selected.”’ the Samsung Look At Me Project website states.

We contacted Olley Edward, an autism campaigner for women and girls who are on the autism spectrum and who herself, has recently been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Olley is also the co founder of Autism Women Matter. She had the following to say.

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There is no doubt that eye contact is a social skill; it helps others feel bonded to you; it helps other know you are being attentive; it helps others feel they are being heard, it helps others feel you are respecting them when they talk, but should it be forced in an Autistic person? The benefits of doing so above, seem to be in the other person’s favour? So why are we insisting an Autistic person learns eye contact? For the sake of the Autistic person, or for the sake of the caregiver? Autistic people can feel a threat response in eye contact, or can stare when they feel they should be making eye contact, which can have its own issues of misunderstanding.
I think the app has been made with wonderful intentions and has been produced sympathetically, and I truly hope it does help the Autistic people that use it, for them personally and not just for the benefit of others.

Maybe an app teaching NTs (neuro typicals)the art of not making eye contact and an app teaching them that very often an Autistic person cannot look at you and fully process what you are saying or in fact hear you, may also be a good tool for the adults using this app? Or an App that teaches Autistic children and adults the way to appear to make eye contact (looking at the bridge of someone’s nose or forehead etc.) so a skill in both parties favour?

I tend to say to friends, if I’m looking at you I’m not actually listening to you at all, I am too busy panicking or becoming unfiltered. If I look downwards or away from you, I am not being rude or aloof, I’m in fact respecting what you say so much that I want to absorb it and remember it.

 Olley Edwards, is a British film maker, model and actress, recently diagnosed with Aspergers.