Respecting Personal Space
We were recently at a friend’s place and had taken a few minutes to socialize before hitting the road and heading home. My oldest daughter, Samantha, was there with me, along with Cameron.
Cameron surprised both us and our friend, by getting very close to her and touching her face. He then said, “I’m gonna kiss your whole face.”
He did this not once, but at least twice. At first she was amused by it, and I think even honored that he would get so personal with her. She knows that it does come easily to him. After a while, though, he was definitely infringing on her personal space and making her feel uncomfortable.
I reminded him that he needed to watch that he wasn’t in someone else’s personal space. He has had this explained to him both at school and at home. He backed off a bit, but it took a few reminders.
A couple of years ago, this would have been virtually unheard of. He didn’t get personal with anyone but our family.
I find it interesting that these little Aspies, who find it so uncomfortable to have people near them, can infringe on other people’s personal space, yet have no idea that they are doing so. It is not something that is done intentionally; they just get wrapped up in their own little world.
Now, however, he has grown more comfortable with other adults (who were always easier for him to deal with anyway), and will sometimes hold them hostage in a conversation or be too touchy feely with them.
He has gone from the boy who cared nothing for being included (and actually seemed oblivious at times), to wanting to be included, but not knowing when and how to introduce himself into the situation. He also fails to see the signs that someone has grown bored or uncomfortable with him.
He will learn as he goes; we will teach him what he needs to know. Meanwhile, we have very understanding friends. They know where and how he started and they see the progress that he has made.
I know that school will grow more difficult for him, as the social situations grow more complex. Children, and people in general, are less accepting of the differences in others as they grow older.
Sometimes, this voyage is a day at a time. Sometimes it is an hour or minute at a time. The situation can change very quickly, going from calm and peaceful to screaming and crying. We just brace ourselves, ride the waves, and try not to crash onto the rocky shore.