Boundaries

This post originally appeared on the Fields Notes on Allistics Tumblr.

I wanted to follow up (finally) on an ask I received the other day that pointed me to this very helpful summary of allistic symptoms and behavior.  One thing the author points out that I hadn’t even considered discussing was boundaries.

Allistic people nearly always have problems with boundaries.  In fact, I’m surprised that the inability to recognize or respect physical and emotional boundaries isn’t a defining symptom of allism.

My allistic children, for example, have the disturbing habit of attempting to hug just about anyone they think they recognize.  I find this humiliating, as I’m absolutely certain strangers are judging me for the way my kids run loose like little puppies when this happens.  (No lie: I would judge another parent whose kids I saw doing this.)  But no amount of depriving them of reading time or requiring them to socialize seems to get the idea through their wee heads that other people’s bodies belong to them.

To be honest, this is one of the allistic “behaviors” that scares me the most when it comes to considering how my kids will take care of themselves as grownups.  How will they ever make friends when they insist on touching other human beings casually and in public?  Worse, what if they never make it to adulthood at all – what if they hug a serial killer, or someone who may or may not have tuberculosis?

(It is a known fact that nearly all serial killers have allism.)

We teach the cats boundaries by squirting them with a water bottle whenever they try to jump onto the table or the kitchen counters.  But I can’t squirt my children when they try to hug their Nan or their aunts without permission…can I?

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