Objective: Teach the student to use eye contact to start an activity.
Step 1: Teach the student to initiate eye contact for one to two seconds to start an activity.
Step 2: Teach the student to initiate eye contact for three to five seconds to start an activity.
Step 3: Continue to increase the duration of eye contact to initiate activities.
• Different people (e.g., teacher, parent, peer)
• Different setting (e.g., classroom, lunchroom, park)
• Different activities (e.g., tickles, spins)
1. Sit facing the student.
2. Engage the student in a preferred activity (e.g., tickling, chasing).
3. Stop the activity and look at the student.
4. To encourage the student to look at you, prompt by pointing to your eyes.
5. When the student looks at you, provide verbal praise (e.g., “Good looking!”), and restart the preferred activity. If the student needs additional motivation, you may also offer a reward such as a toy, snack, or token before restarting the activity.
6. Gradually remove prompts when the student is able to respond independently
7. Provide more/better rewards when the student responds correctly with less guidance, and the best rewards when the student responds correctly with no guidance.
Instruct the student to imitate some motor movements around the face in quick succession (e.g., say “Do this,” and model touching nose, touching lips, touching eyes). Doing so encourages the student to look in the general direction of the face, which may result in eye contact. When you see eye contact, give immediate verbal praise (e.g., “Good looking at me!”).
Other Prompting Procedures
• Hold an item of interest (e.g., a toy, snack, or token) near your eyes.
• Place your hands on the student’s shoulders to orient his body (not head) toward yours.
Problem: The student looks at my eyebrows or forehead, but not my eyes.
Solution: Make sure the student knows exactly where to look (e.g., point to your eyes and say, “These are my eyes. Point to them”). Pointing to your eyes or holding up a preferred item (e.g., a token, snack, or small toy) directly in front of your eyes will encourage the student to look in the right direction. Make sure to withhold reinforcers if the student is looking near, but not at, your eyes, and ensure that all teachers are doing the same.
Problem: The student looks at me for one second and then looks away.
Solution: Withhold rewards until the student maintains eye contact for a predetermined interval (e.g., 5 seconds).
Physically moving a student’s head to encourage him to look at you may be punishing to the student, and is not always successful. Instead, use the Correction Procedure listed above.