Michael is very affectionate and LOVES people. He loves to show his affection and is very friendly. Sometimes, too friendly. Lately, he’s been introducing himself to cashiers, hugging strangers in stores and kissing their cheeks. We have been talking to him about this not being appropriate, even though it has generally been met with giggles and approval or smiles. He fortunately chooses seniors and Moms with small babies to bestow his affection on. 🙂 But regardless, his father and I want to teach him appropriate social behavior. What he is doing may be cute to some people now, but that will wear off. As he gets older, it will not only look inappropriate, but like harassment.
Still, watching Michael interact so affectionately with strangers, has gotten me to question certain ways humans behave for better or worse. I think some of what Michael is doing is great. His friendliness and insistence on saying hi to everyone he meets is wonderful. It would be great if all of us smiled at each other when we were out in society. Even saying hi or good morning or good afternoon is nice. As a society, we have gotten so afraid to approach each other. Yes, Michael’s way is a little TOO intimate, as children on the spectrum don’t understand the social cues of distance and proximity. They also go with how they are feeling, not understanding how to read cues from their fellow humans. This is a skill that must be taught. But I do like Michael’s happiness in interacting with people. I’ve seen how I and many neuro typical people have lost that skill. It is a shame. Humans are social animals and need to talk, touch, and socialize. As long as this is done in the proper way, it works great. In teaching Michael the right ways to be friendly and affectionate, I have been reminded of what is lacking in my socializing abilities and many people’s in society. We have a lot to learn from special kids and the way they embrace the world.
How do your Exceptional Children do in society? Are their strange ways embraced or do they cause tension? Remember Moms, our children are also teaching us how to function more freely in the world. They need instruction on rules of decorum in certain circumstances, but if you have an extrovert child who loves to hug and embrace the world, don’t dismiss that in them. Teach them to embrace the word in an appropriate way, and remember to let them teach you to reach out to fellow humans in a more open way as well. Until next time.