Sunday, February 24, 2013

Body Language

  There's many things about other cultures that you may know from being told about them in a textbook. However, some of these things are impossible to understand, especially as an Aspie, until you experience them first hand.
  One of these things that was definitely initially out of my comfort zone when the Argentinians were here was how affectionate they are. Living in the United States, people have definite "personal bubbles" and don't really hug or touch a lot. Not so with the Argentinians. I was really out of comfort zone initially when they came. My Argentinian student told me it's common there to kiss someone on the cheek when you first meet them, even between different genders. It's just how they greet each other and is considered normal. He also told me the first few days they continued greeting each other in this manner and thought most of the boys at the school probably thought they were gay.
   Even as funny as that was, it was initially hard for me to handle the affection. It wasn't normal for the other families, but because of my Aspie sensitivity to touch, I was really freaked out when, upon meeting the other Argentinians the first time, they all started hugging me. I'm more used to shaking hands, and these people I had just met five seconds ago were in my personal bubble and touching me.
  I had to find a way to handle this. I decided to try to force myself to relax into the hug and smile, after all, I didn't want to offend them. And if I really was not wanting to hug, I put my hand out quickly, and usually they understood, even if they might have been a little confused. However, as I managed to become friends with the Argentinians, it became easier to hug them and I was fine with greeting them that way.
  Some people out there, like my Argentinian friends, are more touchy than what some people are used to. It may freak you out, Aspies, the idea of hugging a complete stranger, believe me, it freaked me out, but try to relax and and smile. It may offend the other person who may not understand your love of the personal space. And eventually, you may even come to enjoy it as you become closer to the person. As crazy as it sounds, it became almost normal for me to hug these kids, and if I can do it, so can you!

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