Advocating for Personal Space

It’s defined as, “the variable and subjective distance at which one person feels comfortable talking to another.” When it comes to a child with a mental illness, getting others – particularly grown ups – to understand the importance of personal space is often a cause of great anxiety. For my son, it is frequently a hypocritical conundrum. Tim is very vocal about his need for greater than average personal space from his classmates, teachers, and family, but invades the personal space of others without any thought. Out in public, his anxiety levels can cause his symptoms to flare, particularly in a crowd or standing in a line. So other than being a hermit, or living in a constant state of panic, or causing others to be uncomfortable, how do I teach my son how to advocate for his need for space, tolerate crowds, and respect other’s boundaries?

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