Just about every teacher, parent, and therapist I know (and that’s a LOT) have commented on kids who lean on others, talk too close, crash into other kids, and touch things that don’t belong to them. They invade spatial boundaries without meaning to and alienate others so fast they don’t know what happened! Funny … alienate has the word “alien” in it and our little bumpers and crashers are often treated as such.
The sad thing is, the kids don’t mean to be intrusive; and are doing the best they can. Games to emphasize spatial awareness can be helpful in teaching both the cognitive and physical aspects of closeness. See how close the kids can walk to a wall without touching it. Have them move around the room without touching one another until the music stops and have them notice how close they are. Play games in which all the kids need to end up in an area when the whistle is blown without pushing one another out of the small space. Have kids move on a chalk-drawn circle in one direction until a whistle is blown and they need to switch direction without touching each other.
You get the picture. When kids play games like these they are becoming more aware of their spatial boundaries mentally and physically. Hopefully when they invade someone’s space incidentally, a simple cue will do. They may even be able to adjust their distance without feeling reprimanded and will wear a smile on their faces remembering the fun games they played.
by Jill Perry, MHA, MS, OTR/L
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