There is a huge focus on teaching Autistic kids and adults to respect other people’s boundaries. Unfortunately when we do this we also teach them to blur their own boundaries. I’ve been explaining boundaries to my own little girl this week so I put an info-graph together which others may find useful.
Here’s how I explained it to her:
Boundaries are our way of keeping safe and also happy. If we have good boundaries then we can keep other people’s unwanted attention, actions or attitudes away from us. Boundaries are like invisible lines around us, sort of like a bubble.
If someone makes a joke about you that you don’t find funny you can keep your boundary strong by telling them “it’s not funny to me”. Sometimes people can persist and say “ah it’s only a joke, everyone else thinks it’s funny.” We can keep our boundary strong by replying “I don’t find it funny so that’s all that matters to me”. If we keep our boundaries strong then we can teach people what is acceptable and unacceptable to us.
People can come into our space or give us an unwanted hug. This is not respecting your boundaries so it’s important to remind them again what you are ok with and what you are not ok with.
You can show someone you are not ok with something just by using your body language. You might move away or stand assertively or signal to them that their action, words or attitude is not ok.
Other people can sometimes take out their bad feelings on you. Teacher might be overloaded or Mom might be tired and stressed. If other people don’t have patience with you then that is their problem, not yours. Don’t let other people’s bad feelings dissolve your invisible lines!
Having healthy boundaries is a primary social skill and that includes the skill of saying no!