Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Are hugs socially acceptable?

Yesterday me and Fynn were at Beavers Market, a small old-fashioned grocery store. Fynn is six and autistic. I was just looking for what i was looking for and heard a lady's voice saying "Oh!"- I turned around and saw Fynn giving a complete stranger a hug. She was looking at me with a surprised look on her face. I just smiled. Then she walked on and another lady walked by, and Fynn gave her a hug too. She glanced at Fynn for a moment then looked at me with a very surprised look. Again, I just smiled. She walked on down the aisle and i heard her say to th' first lady "I thought you knew him, but now I'm thinking you don't." 

Now, i have no idea what these ladies were thinking, and i didn't ask. But i do know by th' way they looked at me that they were both pretty surprised. So that raised th' question for me, as a parent, should i talk to Fynn about something like that? Is it socially acceptable to give someone a hug? Is there an age limit when it stops being socially acceptable to give a stranger a hug? He was just being kind- so, if there is a point to where kindness is not socially acceptable, how do you explain that to someone? If i would've given those ladies hugs i might've been punched chewed out arrested or all of the above. 

What i was thinking at th' time was, wow- it took us (me and beth) almost five years to get a real hug from Fynn. His way of showing affection used to be backing up and running into you as fast as he could, or some other form of sudden impact. One day we just decided that it's not ok to not get hugs from your little boy, so we taught him how to hug. It wasn't easy, you usually have to ask him for a hug, and he still mostly gives his original version of a hug, which is more like getting hit by a truck, but he also gives some really great hugs now. So when i see him voluntarily offer a genuine hug, i'm not quick to stop him. 

Living with an autistic person has really made me think about social behavior. One of our goals as parents is to help Fynn learn how to co-exist around other folks, and that's a reachable goal, but never at the expense of compromising what's good. Truth is not based on a majority vote. So, if you're out and about and some kid is kind to you, though maybe not what you would consider normal, what's th' best way to react? With kindness of course. Eventually our kids will meet certain people and realize that not all folks are nice or can be trusted, let's not be those people. Let's be the people they can be themselves around. Everyone needs that. Cheers.

What would you have done in this situation? Leave us a comment to let us know.

2 comments:

Gorges Smythe said...

It's a bit of a delimma. It is a shame to squelch honest affection, especially since there is so little in the world. At the same time, there are other autistic folks who might go ballistic if they're hugged by a stranger, and some just plain mean folks may speak harshly to him. For his own safety, I'd probably try to tell him that it's best not to hug strangers, at least not without asking. It's a shame the world is the way it is, though.

Danny Hesser said...

Not a bad idea to have him ask, and maybe even ask you guys so you have a heads up. Most of the time, he's probably going to make somebody happy, as long as he's not coming at them like a truck. So cool that he learned and is willing to do that. What if he's sensitive enough to recognize the people who could really use a hug?