Protecting yourself from others

Some topics of conversation can be off limit yet to others they are comfortable talking about them or it can even be their personal interests to focus on these types of details. Being able to negotiate around this can be extremely challenging when you historically don’t like or know that it is not appropriate to share or be forced to share details to a certain level or with certain types of people. Kids who have experienced high levels of bullying at school may indicate one some days that they are comfortable to talk about things and on others not. This is part of their ability to regulate themselves. It may be with the person that they are talking to if that topic is included or it may just be with the topic itself on that particular day because they are trying to maintain their calm and are still overwhelmed from the details and trying to work it out themselves and when ready will talk about it or not.

Being able to read the type of interaction occurring with others and the level of protection that you need to provide yourself is extremely important. How do you cope with these types of details? What are the types of interactions with these topics? What is the success of interaction on personal emotional details as compared to task based details with this person, with this group?  Have there been any issues in the past where you have needed to protect yourself ? e.g. school meetings. What is the level of detail that is being forced on you to discuss? Is that appropriate given your relationship with these people e.g. school staff vs medical staff, husband versus friend.

With discussions that are forced on you, is it something that you have any level of control over? Can you prepare differently? Is this something that you need to walk away from.

Occupational Therapists need to be aware of the frequency of which these types of interactions are occurring, as it may be on a daily basis multiple times per day. This level of issues requires physical management by the individual to protect themselves and move differently around other people, which will then be visible to others.

Awareness of the type of topic is also important. Individuals may be working with multiple different professionals who are all supporting the topic in various ways thus requiring it to be talked about multiple times per week, impacting on how the individual  regulates themselves throughout the week in flow. Family members may also be managing this topic, as well as extended family members and friends / community. Consider how many times these topics may be brought up and the types of discussion that can occur from that. How much of the week does the individual need to protect themselves? Again. What type of protection is needed? When others seek out having a conversation with you, it is a physical interaction where others can control the pace and direction of a topic. This level of force can be minimised by structuring engagement with others completing tasks that have joint interests where topics are limited to safer ones.

Others may be able to share insight into their learnt experiences having been through these challenges before. They may be able to see through your own eyes to get insight, which may hep them from early on in their experience through to later as an adult. Pathways that have been already completed can help provide warning in advance of challenges that might occur. That advanced protection can help use historical information to assist with processing information that has happened in the past as well as what is happening right now. Families often work together to solve issues through sharing resources or information and can spend large quantities of time talking with each other through different modes of communication. That shared experience when appropriately expressed can be hugely supportive and is often a characteristic of parents of children with special needs who lean on each other for regular, immediate and ongoing support for long relationships.