Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders all have their own set of… quirky-ness. I mean no disrespect. All I mean is the reason why there is a spectrum is that there are so many different variations.
For Lira, she has an extremely high IQ but cannot communicate that information as quickly as her brain processes it. She likes to flap when her brain races… in her hair, in her face, against a wall or chair… or against someone. She has no concept of personal space.
In order to help her realize that everyone has a personal bubble, I took one of her miniature princess toys and placed it in a plastic storage bag. I blew air into the bag and sealed it. I also grabbed her stuffed Mario.
We sat down together and I explained to her that everyone has an invisible bubble that is called “personal space.” I asked her to poke at her princess toy and feel the bubble. I asked her what it felt like and explained that you cannot feel someone’s personal bubble but it is there.
Next, I told her that even though we cannot feel someone else’s bubble, that person might be uncomfortable if someone tries to poke through it. Lira watched as I used her Mario to poke at the princess through the bag. As the princess bounced around inside the bubble, I asked Lira if she thought the princess was happy about Mario trying to pop her bubble.
Then, I told her that there are times when it is acceptable to step inside someone’s personal space, like when you give a hug, but that we should ask permission before trying to poke through their bubble. We ended the lesson by having the princess come out of her bubble to hug Mario.
Over the next several days, when Lira breached someone’s personal space, I reminded her that she was in that person’s bubble. After a week, I noticed she no longer flapped against people and that she seemed to respect our personal space more.
Please note: I am not a doctor nor am I a therapist. I am a mother of a child with Autism (PDD-NOS) and just wanted to share something that worked for us.