Social and Physical Boundaries for Adults with Developmental Disabilities

Social Boundaries

Those with developmental disorder have lower inhibitions that can affect social development. Understanding what may or may not be socially appropriate is a difficult task for those with developmental disabilities. Whether it is to make friends or sit for a job interview, it’s imperative to teach social boundaries to those with developmental disabilities. To prepare for everyday conversations, you can help your loved one with developmental disabilities be prepared for those conversations by role playing and acting out common scenarios and conversations. You can teach skills on friendship and how to develop a solid friendship. Showing them videos of good friend qualities and bad friend qualities gives them a visual understanding of what those qualities may look like so that they understand how to show interest, being caring, and honest. It also gives them opportunities to know what a bad friendship looks like without having to go through a negative experience that may affect them emotionally.

Physical Boundaries

Just like you and I, people with developmental disabilities have emotional needs and sexual feelings. While social development may be affected but sexual development and sexual curiosity is not. Therefore, this can lead to a range of complications in understanding what is socially appropriate. While these conversations may feel embarrassing, its critical to not ignore those needs and feelings and acknowledge them by teaching behaviors that are appropriate. Someone with a developmental disability may have difficulty understanding why they cannot touch themselves in a public setting or why they cannot touch someone else inappropriately. Low inhibitions and no delay in hormonal changes can lead to poor self-control. Bringing attention to inappropriate sexual behavior at the start of it occurring can decrease future problems. While this conversation can be embarrassing or awkward its critical to teach social and sexual boundaries to keep them safe and respectful to others.  By teaching what are appropriate touches vs. inappropriate touches is imperative to teaching social boundaries. Creating social stories around appropriate touch and what is appropriate for different environments allows for a visual representation along with something that is readily available to reinforce understanding. It is imperative to teach your loved ones with developmental disabilities social boundaries, personal space, and what is sexually appropriate.

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