Autism and ‘personal bubbles’

‘Bubble’ Awareness

Have you ever noticed that you are forever tripping over your toddler?  Toddlers have little awareness of personal space through lack of experience and the fact they just want to be near you ‘cos you’re mum or dad.  By the time they’re 3-4 this has normally corrected itself to a degree and as they get older they become aware of their own bubble as well as other peoples. 

On the other hand, if you have youngsters on the autistic spectrum they never develop this in built awareness and will still happily invade every ones space when their need arises.  Of course, you will always have the ones who hate close contact and will avoid everyone but at home the ‘tripping over them’ seems to continue forever.

Hmmm…..never thought of this one!

What’s brought me onto this subject?  It was this morning when Nikita asked to me to plait her hair, no problem with that except when she asked me I was in the middle of doing something.  Instead of standing back and letting me finish she stood right where she had stationed herself next to me oblivious to the fact that she was right in my way!  Having crashed into to her several times as she was standing behind me at some points I realised that this is a common occurrence in my life.

Frequently they will ask me if I have something, I do and I’ll head off in the appropriate direction to find it.  They will go ahead of me to my bedside cabinet, for example, and block my path, standing there without any realisation that they are right where I need to get to.  Having asked them to move they will obligingly crawl on to the bed so that I can reach whatever it is they want.  

If they don’t go ahead of me and I actually manage to access the area I need, I will turn as I stand up and tread on their toes as they are so close behind me!  It doesn’t matter where we are or what I’m doing, there is always one if not a lot more crowded around me for me trip over.  

I’ve got used to this over the years and whilst it can be very frustrating, I do understand that they just don’t have the inbuilt antenna that lets them know that if they stand where I need to get to I won’t be able to do what I need to do.  It’s an interesting part of their wiring and ties in with a lot of other things they do.

Another one is butting into conversations but that’s a whole different subject I’ll cover another day.  In the meantime, when you trip over your teenager for the umpteenth time today, just remember, they don’t know they’re doing it!

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