Social phobia is a strange condition. As far as we know, the only way out of it is by doing. Doing is the hard part. I wonder if being Asperger has made my son’s social phobia even more difficult to work his way out of. I also wonder what I could have done better.
Hindsight, compels me to look for what I might have done differently. At the time, and with the knowledge and understanding I had back then, I would not have been able to change what was done. But hindsight does show me that perhaps there are some things that could have helped my son’s social phobia.
The one thing that might have made the greatest difference was understanding what my son meant when he told me he did not want me to touch him any longer. Sadly, my cognitive processes are literal.
A long period ensued where he received very little cuddling in any form from me. Both of us suffered, but neither of us could figure out what to do. I imagine this made his way into the deepest depths of his phobia much quicker and his ascent a lot more difficult. Eventually, and after much reflection, I talked to him about it and we agreed that I would ask him if he wanted his back scratched (his child-hood favorite cuddle). Otherwise, I could try to touch him during the day. If he did not want the touch, he would let me know.
Changing our behavior towards each other has mattered for our relationship. We seem to be happier together. Has touching more had an effect on his social phobia? Well, that is difficult for me to judge. I would hope so, but it was late in coming.
If you are an Asperger parent and your child tells you (s)he does not want to be touched (or any similar wish), find out exactly what (s)he means by that. I wish I could have known then what I know now.