Tag: Space

Personal Space

*Not my actual house*C. A. Bennett

Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017
2013 AlphaSmart Neo2

Being part of a family or other group can have its difficulties, especially when the quarters are cramped. We live in a tiny house that is seven-hundred square feet of living area. We shift, turn, and shuffle our way around each other in such a way that would nearly be worthy of a finely choreographed dance on Broadway, except now and again, we trip, stumble and collide with Keystone Cop-like coordination. Sometimes it’s comical, sometimes it isn’t. Always, it’s annoying.

What happens when something in the normal routine changes? It can be as simple as a teenager who used to spend most of his time in his bedroom, but has decided to come out and join the family in the living room. Nothing wrong with that, and in fact it’s a really good thing! I’ve been trying to get him out of there for years. It does have it’s effects though.

Since the space is small and cramped already, it can seem even more so with the addition of one more body on a more regular basis. Especially when that body is six-foot-five and all skinny legs and arms. Come to think of it, that’s how he got the nickname, “Daddy Long-Legs”. It can make a parent who loves his child a bit edgy to have most of the living room floor taken up by sprawled out legs and size 14 shoes, even if the kid is quiet by nature. It’s not noise… it’s space.

So how does the dad-in-question handle it? By going to bed at 8:20 PM, which completely disrupts my routine. My response was something along the line of, “WHAT?! Wait!” because I was in the bedroom working on a paper, and making every attempt to concentrate while working in solitude. “What do you mean, you’re going to bed NOW?? UGH! Fine.” So I relocated to a different room to work uncomfortably. Solitude. Personal Space. And it’s all because of one little change. One person made one small decision about where he wanted to spend his time, and the rest of the people in the house lost their minds.

See, here’s the thing, and I want to be clear on this; We are a typical family. We interact regularly, usually eat dinner together and talk, yadda, yadda… we are always doing something together. The thing is… in this particular case, the timing is what really changed, and that’s what actually threw everything out of the delicate balance it was for years. Dad’s TV time was disrupted, and that caused a minor cascade of events.

Adaptation takes time. Becoming reacquainted with an area once something has changed is a process just like any other. For my husband, the shift of our son spending more time in the living room was the equivalent of having someone move in, because it was an extra body that wasn’t usually present at that tone of the day.

The boy had always had a habit of staying in a certian area of the house, and no amount of cajoling from his mother had ever chanced that. Autistic people are creatures of habit, and up till recently, getting the boy to spend time with family was more like pulling teeth than actual socializing. It was out of his comfort zone, and sometimes you have to let a person have their comfort.

Here’s the thing… my son is high-function, and isn’t anti-social. On the contrary, he interacts with people on a regular basis, and does very well. He has a lot of friends, and has held a job without problems typical to autistic people. He’s socially okay for the most part, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t enjoy his solitude, and his room was his preferred place for that.

So what changed? Hard to say, really. One day, he just decided to bring his computer to the living room, set up shop. It’s now become his preferred area to do whatever computer-related things he does. Why? We don’t know. My curiosity got the best of me, because I am an observer by nature, so he and I had a conversation about it. The boy was unsure as to why he suddenly liked the living room better, but says it has more space. Interesting that it took him four years to come to this decision, but personally, I’m happy about the change. I like that he’s spending more time with dear old mom & dad. I’m happy to see him out of his room and interacting more when his brothers and their girlfriends come for a visit. It’s a good thing.

The (former) Behavior Specialist in me is jumping for joy at yet another social victory in the life of her autistic son. The mom in me is just happy the boy isn’t cooped up in his room constantly. As for dad? He’ll adjust eventually… most people tend to adapt to changes pretty well in the long run, it just may take a little longer for some than other. At this rate, he will be well-rested at the very least.

One thing I think we will all agree with, is the need for a bigger house. Let’s face it… Tiny House living is tough at best, but when the dynamics suddenly change, it’s rough. Seven-hundred square feet of living space isn’t much for three adults and a dog, but we’ll manage. We always do.

Many Blessings,

Crystal

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