Friday, 4 May 2012

Personal space

Because I’m so unaware of invading other people’s personal space, I’m incredibly aware of people’s personal space and constantly thinking about it when communicating with other peoples.  And more importantly to me, I’m very aware of other people invading mine and preventing people getting too close.  E.g. by taking a step back or moving slightly and have leant ways to do this politely and without drawing attention to it.  Part of this comes from not liking to be touched when I’m not expecting it. It sound strange but if I can see you and see or I know your about to touch me then I’m fine, however if you touch me when I’m not expecting it, especially on the next I jump completely out of my skin.  

So imagine my horror when another nurse in work decided to grab and then twist my ear from behind me.  After she registered my complete shock [I had just dropped and smashed a drugs bottle as she did it] she explained she had noticed my earrings and wanted to see what they were.    

Part of my social behaviour therapy I was given as a child was to do with personal space which basically said imagine a hula hoop constantly around everyone at their feet, this is their personal space, you don’t enter this unless you have permission to do so from that person or the situation permits it [such as you’re in a lift]

As part of Asperger syndrome, there can be problems with understanding body language and social boundaries and therefore understanding the principle of personal boundaries and the reasons why can be confusing.  But at the same time, NT people also sometimes Invade personal boundaries. Both for good reasons, such as romance / cuddles etc, but also for bad, such as anger violence and aggression.  Therefore whilst trying to learn or teach about personal space it’s also advisable to learn / teach about the wider issues and body language and reasons why it is sometimes ok to invade someone personal space.

So Asperger’s or not, personal space can be difficult to determine but it should be respected.  I’ve learnt to respect others personal space due to having people invading my own… and my ear still hurts and its been a good few days now!

1 comment:

  1. I really like how simply you explained this issue. My daughter has low-functioning autism and she loves to touch people, but doesn't like being touched. It is funny to see how much it is on her terms only. Thanks for reminding me.