You are here:

Autism/supporting boy with Asperger's with boundaries around showing affection


Hello Susan,

A ten-year-old boy in our school does not (yet) have a diagnosis of Asperger's but shows several characteristics. Lately he has been wanting to spend time with an adult female educational assistant during outside recess times during the day. He has been chatting a lot with her and putting his arm around her, and she finds it "inappropriate and weird". She has asked him to stop. Can you suggest any strategies for explaining to this boy about appropriate boundaries in this area of development? He is a sweet boy, but just needs some support in this area. Thanks.

I commend your Ea and she should go with her instincts, for several reasons.

Always heed those little internal voices that tell you something is not right.What this boy is doing is not age appropriate, whether or not he has a diagnosis. This behavior isolates him from his peers. No other kids want to hang with the kid who is attached to an adult.

Perhaps he is entering puberty and needs guidance in how to handle his feelings. Perhaps he's avoiding peer social interactions he does not understand. Keep in mind that any habits he slips into now will be difficult to break down the road. In just a couple years it will not be appropriate for him to be touching women;best teach the rules now.

For a boy, you could have him hold his arm straight out, palm out. This is the distance he should stay from people. Make exceptions though for a small circle of people. His parents a nd some extended family may be within the circle of people he may touch and hug. It's also all right for a doctor or nurse to touch him, or a policeman. Use the words, "The rule is...." at school, he can shake hands, give high fives, etc., but no hugs and he must respect personal space by staying arms length away.  


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Dr. Sharon A. Mitchell


Sharon can help with parenting and educational concerns. She has worked in teaching, special education, counseling and consulting for over thirty years and gives workshops to educators and parents on working with kids with autism spectrum disorders. Sharon speaks from both the education and parent points of view, having an adult son with Asperger's.


Sharon has spent decades as a special education consultant with a school district and autism consult for the province's Department of Education, giving workshops and individual consults. Currently she works as regional autism consultant for a health district in between teaching university classes. She is an Amazon bestselling author or a series of novels, each depicting a child who has an autism spectrum disorder. Sharon's Master's thesis looked at the long-term outlook for persons with high functioning autism and Asperger's. Her Doctorate focused on strategies to help those with autism spectrum disorders.

Website at and sits on Autism Today's Panel of Experts (

Author of "Autism Goes to School" - a novel about autism that that became an Amazon bestseller. Get this Amazon bestseller free at In the next book, Autism Runs Away, Ethan is only in grade one and already has been kicked out of one school due to his tantrums and pattern of running away when in a panic. Now in a new school his mom remains glued to her phone, waiting for the call to tell her that they don’t know what to do with a child who has autism. Sara is about to learn if this new school is up to the challenge. ( Autism Belongs is the 3rd book. Manny's life has shrank to the confines of their house. His parents are desperate not to rock his world because the aggression has gotten to much worse. Where will this lead? Is there a chance that Manny could actually belong out in the world? You bet! Get a free sample at Book four, Autism Talks and Talks, is about a 12 year old girl who has Asperger's. She's bright, inquisitive, highly verbal, but lacks social skills. Try a free sample at Book five, Autism Grows Up features Suzie, a bright, twenty-one year old whose life collapsed after she finished high school. Now, she lives in her mother's basement, spending nights on her computer, afraid to broach the world outside their door. Autism Grows Up is found at Prefer a boxed set? Get the first 3 books bundled together at Co-author of bestseller, The Official Autism 101 Manual (

B.A. in Psychology, B.Ed. in Special Education, M.A. in Educational Leadership PhD. in Psychology Management, specializing in autism.

Awards and Honors
B.R.A.G. Medallion for the novel Autism Goes to School - Book 1 in the School Daze Series. ( Like Autism Goes to School, the third book in the series, Autism Belongs, also ranked #1 on Amazon ( Manny is not like other children. He doesn’t talk. He doesn’t leave the house. His parents desperately try to arrange their world so that Manny does not get upset. Because, when he does, well, the aggression was getting worse. At ten, Manny was becoming difficult to handle.

©2017 All rights reserved.