Personal Space and Autism Spectrum Disorders | Mobile Therapy Centers

Personal Space and Autism Spectrum Disorders

Personal Space and Autism Spectrum Disorders

Valentine’s Day is a day to express our love toward people we appreciate and care for through hugs, kisses and possibly gift giving. For some people, this can be a day that they do not look forward to, but others love to spread the love.

Personal space is difficult for some individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder to understand, whether it is them getting too close to others or not knowing when someone else is too close to them. Personal space is something that we appreciate and often seek when engaging in any activity with another individual.

A big question for parents is how do we teach personal space and awareness? At Mobile Therapy Centers, we work on this skill using a variety of materials. The materials we often use include social stories, visuals and in-vivo practice.

Here are some visuals:

Tools like these explain to children how to engage in situations that may arise. Social stories can be made with software such as Microsoft Word, or websites such as BoardMaker. To do this, you can find images that associate with the topic of choice and then provide a brief description of the appropriate behavior that the child should engage in. When presenting these, engage the child in the story and ask questions. This can help them remember how to react in specific situations. Visuals are important because children are more likely to retain the knowledge. On the other hand, in-vivo is when we teach the children specific social skills when the situation arises. We can prompt them to engage in the desired behavior. For example, we would ask them to say “I need space” to someone that made them uncomfortable. There are also times that you can practice these skills with your child through role-play, so that they are equipped with the right tools when it occurs. With that being said, next time you are worried about which Valentine’s Day cards your child will like, also remember to prepare them for what is to come.

Valentine’s Day and personal space can be challenging for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, but we can do things to ease these social situations. These are just a few things that we work on here at Mobile Therapy Centers when working with clients. We even have an upcoming social skills night on February 4th that your child can attend! We hope everyone has a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Mobile Therapy Centers services include ABA Therapy, Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Behavioral Therapy and Counseling. We see children at our clinic, at your home or at your child’s school/daycare making it convenient for you and your family. Contact us for a free consultation at 847-816-7200 or at