The nightmare of public affection

28 Jan

Body language, eye signals, embraces, all a bit of a nightmare. 

The students I have with autism are so varied, it is difficult for THEM to understand what autism looks like, never mind what we think. 

couple-embraceI was talking to a child today about how his behaviour affects others. He has high functioning autism (formerly Aspergers) and he really struggled to understand how someone might not be able to tell you how they felt. He assumed that everyone with aspergers was just like him and he has no trouble at all verbalising what he thinks! 

We talked about a sliding scale. We talked about how for some children anxiety looks like aggression  and for others there are no holds barred, you would simply get a smack! For others, anxiety makes them retreat inside themselves, and for others they rock, or shake their hands. He recognised all these actions but did not realise what they perhaps meant. 

His issue was swearing. another student really disliked it, it upset him and as a result he would tell his parents he did not want to come the following day, sometimes self harming too. He could not understand this at all. How could it be that someone couldn’t tell you what they thought? How did that work!?

This couple hugging is such a simple picture, but what would it say to someone who was touch sensitive and couldn’t bear wearing certain cloths, never mind letting you touch them? Some of our students hate the school jumpers, some hate wearing a coat, some flip out at certain smells or something equally small.

This picture probably communicates something quite conventional to you, but now take another look, imagine you have no idea what a hug means at all and have never seen one in your life before. 

Now what do you think this picture means? 


7 Responses to “The nightmare of public affection”

  1. Peeksi January 28, 2013 at 21:08 #

    When I left out my own recognition of what a hug means and looked through a different set of eyes, I truly felt a sense of fear of the unknown. Gave me an appreciation of someone else’s perception of the world around us. Thank you.

  2. The Great Surge January 29, 2013 at 07:13 #

    I wrote a story on the picture, check it out. Btw, your post was great. Here is my story though.

  3. mightwar January 29, 2013 at 15:18 #

    I really liked the way that you are able to take the writing challenge and connect it so directly to the topic of your blog. I think your post will make many people re-consider the subject of touch. Your example reminded me of past work with children with autism and the alternative substitutes I had to find for the physical touch. I tended to use cloth (a wax-printed material that Ghanaian traditional clothing is made out of) quite a lot because the children seemed to respond to its varying lengths, colours and patterns. They were particularly drawn to the way it moved through the air and caused the air about them to soften before touching skin.

    • Be1ngSpec1al (@Be1ngSpec1al) January 29, 2013 at 19:29 #

      You are so right! I am constantly having to find new ways of trying to help children communicate and understand 🙂


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