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How to communicate?

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by porchrocker, Sep 23, 2021.

  1. porchrocker

    porchrocker New Member

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    I feel somewhat silly asking - as though it really shouldn't be this complicated - but I feel stumped and would greatly appreciate any advice.

    I didn't grow up having any personal experience with friends or family, or even strangers, with autism, until now. I am working in a household in which the adult son has autism. I suppose you would call it functional autism, as he he has a part-time job and communicates well. The only thing immediately and noticeably "different" about him is that he is very quirky. Some might describe him as "nerdy."

    My issue that I am requesting guidance on is this... I am a middle aged, petite woman. He is in his early 20's and nearly 2 feet taller than me and I would say double my weight. He is always kind, complimentary, and interested in getting to know you and your interests so he can tell you everything he knows about it. BUT he is also often very touchy-feely and seemingly quickly attached. Once I give him an inch, he takes several miles! His family members often have to step in and tell him to back off. Hugs, leaning on my shoulders, following me around and overwhelming me with the conversation. (I'm typically a pretty quiet, private person.)

    This seems to greatly embarrass him and it makes me feel bad that I am not comfortable with engaging with him. His large stature paired with the desire to always be so close makes me uncomfortable. And I'm not the talkative type, so I get lost trying to keep up with simply listening to him talk.

    It just makes for an awkward encounter every time I'm around him and I don't want it to be that way. But I'm not sure how to approach it, physically or mentally.
     
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  2. Aspychata

    Aspychata Serenity waves, beachy vibes

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    You didn't explain what capacity you are in or employed as.

    Perhaps ask for some personal space? If you are in the house, does he see you as a family member? You may need to leave if you can't defend and ask for your personal boundaries to be respected.
     
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  3. Suzette

    Suzette Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    This sounds like Williams syndrome instead of autisim. There are similarities but I've only read a little about it.

    I suggest you ask his family in how to deal with him best. You are new in his world and I suspect he has already learned the boundaries of others in the household.

    This Rare Medical Condition Makes You Love Everyone
     
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  4. RobZombiefan

    RobZombiefan Member

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    That's so Awesome! We do need more love in this world!
     
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  5. jleeb05

    jleeb05 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Wow, I had never heard of Williams Syndrome before. I did some quick research and they have some very obvious physical characteristics, including being short in stature. Given that this guy is two feet taller than porchrocker, it's likely not Williams Syndrome.

    I work at a university where there are a lot of students on the spectrum. My role is investigating sexual misconduct. The behavior described actually sounds familiar. Often times we get complaints of stalking or sexual harassment concerning students on the spectrum (typically male). I recall one case in which a student began following around three female students who worked as RAs in his residence hall. They thought it was stalking/sexual harassment but it seems that as RAs, they had been very kind and helpful when he moved in. He misinterpreted this and thought they were now friends. They were all female because the male students tended to be much more direct and blunt (ie. "Hey dude, you're being weird. Stop following me").

    If my experience at work is any indication, the mistake people often make is not saying anything. Someone on the spectrum may have no idea they're making you uncomfortable or doing anything inappropriate. Remember, a lot of people on the spectrum don't pick up on social subtleties and body language. So as awkward as it may be at times, I think you need to be clear about boundaries.

    Maybe you could say things like:

    "I have tasks to complete so I can talk for 5 minutes and then I have to get back to work."

    "I'm not a touchy-feely person so let's fist bump instead of hugs."

    "I enjoy your company but I'm an introvert so I would appreciate some personal space while I'm working."
     
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  6. Suzette

    Suzette Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Thanks @jleeb05. I had not read about the physical characteristics of Williams syndrome. Very interesting.
     
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  7. Neonatal RRT

    Neonatal RRT Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Obviously, I don't know this gentleman, but I might suggest being very direct with him,...even if it seems awkward or even rude to your sensibilities. I would consider myself a fairly intelligent person, I am married, I work with the public,...but I still miss a lot of social signaling. I also often miss the round-about, indirect language with "hints". After a string of failed relationships in my youth, I did find someone,...but it still took many years of misunderstandings to realize that straight-forward, direct, in-your-face communication worked the best. My wife was really uncomfortable with it,...now it's kind of second nature with me. On the other hand, if you, as the receiver of communication, are not comfortable with direct language,...he too, needs to be aware. He may be a very awkward, but direct communicator without a sense of nuance,...and might not be quite aware of how it affects you and others. He politely needs to know this. At any rate, you can be very pleasant and sensitive to his feelings,...and use direct language. My wife and I have been interacting like this for decades.
     
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  8. Martha Ferris

    Martha Ferris Seeking answers

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    Set your boundaries and stick with them. You have to be proactive for yourself and very clear with him what those boundaries are. He is able to understand thus he knows what is acceptable and what is not. Keep reinforcing acceptable behavior and discouraging unacceptable behavior. Make it plain what your your job is and the boundaries of that job. Be consistent. Inconsistency will indicate acceptablility.
     
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  9. SusanLR

    SusanLR Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I don't know how this guy thinks, but, it may be nothing more than his way of being friendly.
    Like the gentle giant that wants to be buddies with everyone he is in close contact with.

    In today's times it seems everyone is suspicious of everyone else or accusatory of something.
    If he can't pick up on things you can say about what your needs and duties are, well, a lot of
    autists do have trouble with that, it may not be a workable situation.

    Like in Of Mice and Men. He was totally innocent in his mind when he squeezed the pets too tight
    and didn't understand what happened with wanting to touch the fabric of the woman's dress.
    The friendly giant that was unaware he wasn't so gentle.

    This may not be along those physical lines, but, in his mind he may just be comfortable
    and doesn't understand how it bothers you.
    How you make this understood to him is up to you, but, it needs to be done.
    Sounds like a little fear in there with him being so much bigger.