"Social Isolation Is A Choice"

Social isolation means that autistic children or adults may choose to do without interaction with other people. They seem to feel perfectly at home with themselves and may avoid contact with other people.

Social isolation symptoms include:

• They don't like to make eye contact.
• They may not make appropriate facial expressions and gestures.
• They may lack empathy.
• They may express emotions, such as laughing or crying, for mysterious reasons.
• They may choose to be aloof, preferring to be alone.
• They may have difficulty interacting with other people.
• They may have difficulty making friends.
• They may not want to cuddle or be cuddled.
• They may not play socially.
• They may not respond to verbal cues, eq. they don't turn to the sound of your voice when you call their name.

Let's examine some of these symptoms of social isolation.

"Avoiding Eye Contact"

Remember, young babies can't be stared at. You will always win, when it comes to staring down a baby! That's just how it is. They'll always look away. That's their nature. They won't hold eye contact with you.

Also, you really do have to teach children to look you in the eye. I would make sure my kids were listening to me by having them look me in the eye as I spoke.

On the other hand, not being able to look someone in the eye, may indicate fear, lack of confidence, or shame. Avoiding eye contact is a normal thing that most of us have done, to one extent or another.

It certainly is an example of social isolation, but it's something that happens to all of us, more or less. Don't you feel isolated sometimes?

"Make Inappropriate Facial Expressions And Gestures"

Your facial expressions express what you're thinking, if you want to reveal that. If you really don't feel anything, then you won't deliver a reaction or a facial expression. What if you're always in a mode of listening and not judging?

Perhaps some people feel they don't trust other people who don't reveal every single thing going on in their minds.

I've recently seen some Youtube videos of toddlers who've been diagnosed with autism. I just don't see it in these kids - they're smiling. They're obviously enjoying themselves. Sure, they're stacking blocks, but I get the feeling they LIKE it when the blocks FALL down!

These kids definitely have facial expressions!

"Lack of Empathy"

I feel you are either born with empathy or you're not. With a lot of children, you have to teach them to care and be considerate of other beings, human, insect, animal, etc.

When my son, Nolan, turned 4, we had a birthday party for him. One of his little friends bumped her head and hurt herself. Next thing, you know, Nolan is standing next to her, rubbing her OWIEE, while the other kids either looked at them or looked away, uncomfortably, while this was going on.

Lack of empathy is a human trait. There's plenty of proof of that around the world or people wouldn't be killing and torturing their fellow man and other creatures the way they do!

But I believe you can teach someone to have empathy and compassion. It's definitely a way to avoid social isolation.

"Express Emotions, Such As Laughing Or Crying, For Mysterious Reasons"

Another interesting symptom. Do we all laugh at the same things? Do the same things make us all cry? Enough said.

"May Be Aloof, Preferring To Be Alone (Also Difficulty Interacting With Other People And Making Friends Or Play Socially)"

Nolan used to walk around the schoolyard by himself. I was concerned that he wasn't making friends. I thought he was lonely. But a perceptive friend, who volunteered at the grade school, told me not to worry. She told me that Nolan chose to do this. He was not being shunned by other kids. He was perfectly fine.

In other words, he was just being himself. If he needed time for himself, he took it. That's healthy.

Often, shyness is mistaken for aloofness or arrogance, so watch out for that.

"Don't Want To Cuddle Or Be Cuddled"

My oldest loved to cuddle and be cuddled.

When Aidan came along, he tolerated it for a few months. To my surprise the little imp actually wiped one of my kisses off his forehead. He wasn't even 11 months old! He had decided he'd had enough of THAT. He resisted cuddling at that point too.

But because he was so young, we still continued to show him our affection. Even when he resisted and protested, I told him that we still enjoyed hugging and kissing him. And of course, he still wanted us to pick him up any way!

Luckily at least, both boys liked stuffed toys. Aidan liked having them around, but not giving his mom and dad a hug! That's just the way it is. Some people just don't like being touched too much.

In later years, instead of outright hugs or cuddling, I'd pat him on the head or touch his arm or hand or shoulder lightly. He'd tolerate that much at least. Because humans thrive when they are being touched, however lightly.

We can avoid social isolation by continuing to connect with each other by touching. It just doesn't have to be a bear hug!

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