Autism and Personal Space

Perhaps the central characteristic of autism is a qualitative impairment in reciprocal interaction. Social interaction skills can be learned, but socializing can lead to exhaustion, as success is achieved by intellectual analysis rather than intuition.

Having too many people in close proximity and being required to socialize beyond a limited capacity for socialization invariably leads to agitation and a desperate need to recover emotionally through solitude. Thus accommodation for someone with autism needs to include sufficient personal space and opportunities for periods within the day of privacy.

The need to have sufficient personal space also applies to the area around the building, with freedom to walk in a safe area.

-Tony Attwood

Tony Attwood is an English psychologist author of several books on Asperger’s Syndrome. His book, Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals, provides information on diagnosis, problems of social relations, sensory issues, motor control and other typical issues which face people with Asperger’s and their support networks. Attwood also has a clinical practice at his diagnostic and treatment clinic for children and adults with Asperger’s Syndrome, in Brisbane, begun in 1992.

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