How to Teach a Child with Autism About Personal Space

Tara Delaney, MS, OTR/L • 12/9/2016 • 13 Comments

One of the most common social difficulties children with autism have is understanding personal space. They often stand too close to others and don't realize they're making the other person uncomfortable. 

In this brief video clip, Tara Delaney, MS, OTR/L, describes her easy-to-use method that helps children with autism understand and apply the concept of "personal space," which in turn helps them adapt more easily into social situations.

Topic: Autism

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Sunday, December 11, 2016 1:22:45 PM | posted by Mcgill Scott
Thanks for the video - but how do I get it to play?

Sunday, December 11, 2016 2:15:34 PM | posted by Michelle Gatto
Good reinforcement exercise.

Monday, December 12, 2016 5:38:45 AM | posted by Daisy M. Deynes Bryant
Great educational clip on how to teach physical boundaries.

Monday, December 12, 2016 7:23:38 AM | posted by Jody Tyler
I have been working with people with autism for about 15 years. This is the first time that I have heard about this approach to teaching personal space. This makes a lot of sense in terms of allowing the opportunity to experience the feeling of someone in their personal space. I think that this will be a very helpful technique to share with staff who work with folks with autism for whom this is an issue. Thank you for the information.

Monday, December 12, 2016 10:31:58 AM | posted by Michele Allman
Thank you.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016 6:37:12 AM | posted by
Excellent explanation. Frequently meet with children in school system who don't get personal space or volume of voice. . Thank you

Friday, December 16, 2016 10:15:28 AM | posted by joyce neale
Very interesting, Not thought about his space, his feelings and experiences with the uncomfortableness. Thanks

Friday, December 16, 2016 10:18:24 PM | posted by Nan Cameron
Great demonstration. That is such an effective method.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016 1:58:35 PM | posted by sue reinhart
great demonstration

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 2:27:56 AM | posted by cecilia yeung
very helpful and concrete message.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017 1:00:18 PM | posted by Dr. Damita Lucas
Excellent points on stimulate input and nervous system space. The activity described was insightful.

Thursday, March 1, 2018 10:41:37 AM | posted by Kimberly
Thank you for this video. This has helped me to understand why my prior attempts at getting my child to understand personal space wasn't quite working. I will absolutely be trying this. People don't realize how often something simple can make such a big difference. I really believe this will help my child with her friendships and everyday interactions.

Saturday, March 10, 2018 3:27:59 PM | posted by Faith Markle
I really appreciate hearing that this spatial navigation issue needs to be addressed on several levels. I've been working with my son on the concept of personal space since he was five. He is now nine and still doesn't seem to get it. He's had physical therapy and verbal instructions, but I'm eager to try having him experience this with a hoop and a peer.