Appropriate Displays of Affection And Clearing Up Misunderstandings

Michael is a very social exceptional boy. The only problem with this is that he sometimes misunderstands social cues and how to be social in the appropriate way. He loves to spontaneously kiss and hug strangers in public, and this is a problem. We are in the process of trying to teach him “stranger danger,” but with limited success. The thing is that these strangers, usually elderly ladies, men or young mothers, find him cute and smile, so Michael sees nothing wrong with this behavior. I was happy he stopped squeezing hands, but hugging and kissing is not good either. Yesterday at his summer camp, he got reprimanded for kissing a stranger in a restaurant when his group went out for lunch. So now for the first time this behavior is crossing over with people besides his father and I. This is all part of the difficulty that kids like Michael have understanding facial expressions and social cues. So now, we are having to find a way to teach him these skills.

But something funny happened the other night. It made me stop and think, because it was then me who was misunderstanding Michael’s social cues. Michael was kissing me good night in bed. He has this little thing where he does several kisses on each cheek. It had been a long day and sleep routine. I was tired, he was tired, and I was a little abrupt with the good night kisses telling him that’s enough kisses, I love him and now it’s time for sleep.  He told me that I offended him. It made me think that sometimes even us neuro typical people get those signals crossed, that is, the social signals that make comprehending human behavior so complex at times. It was food for thought, for sure.

Do your Exceptional Children get those social cues mixed up, Exceptional Moms? How do you handle it? It’s not easy, and it’s a daily learning process for the whole family. I think the important thing is to model appropriate behavior, read them stories, both regular and “social stories” that describe this process, and be there to remind your children that you are there to guide and teach them as they are for you. Until next time.

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