The “Why” of Body Language
Body language is one-way people communicate without using words. You can understand so much about what a person is thinking and feeling just based on their facial and body expressions, which is why it is so important to pay attention to what our peers are trying to tell us silently. Whether it be that they are upset by something we did, excited by a topic, tired, or simply content, it can all be identified through body language. However, for those with life challenges such as ADHD, Autism, “Asperger’s,” etc., picking up on these cues can be more difficult for them than others.
Starting in middle and high school, having the skill of reading body language is so important. Most people when in this stage of life are so focused on what they are feeling or going through that they can forget that others are feeling things too. Therefore, being attentive and paying attention to what our friends and peers are silently telling us is so important. They could be feeling as if they’d like to be alone that day, or maybe they are trying to portray that they want you to come over and help them, but either way, being able to assess the situation helps children, teens, and even young adults make and nurture friendships. Knowing when to back off or come up to someone are useful ways to socialize without feeling the anxiety of rejection, which can be made easier with the help of understanding how to read and interpret body language.
The time between elementary and high school can be stressful enough as it is. So many developmental changes happen during that time and having the worry of not being able to tell what others are feeling around you can make it so much more difficult. This difficulty can then lead to anxiety, isolation, and depression since if your child cannot successfully read body language, they can have a hard time making and maintaining meaningful relationships. This can be because, those with life challenges, “tend to focus on small, local details of body movement — such as the activity of one hand — rather than the motion of a body as a whole, says study investigator Anthony Atkinson, lecturer in psychology at Durham University, UK.” (Basu, 2015). Not paying attention to an individual’s body language, but rather just the minute details such as a hand gesture can distract and confuse an individual with life challenges from the real meaning their peer is trying to portray. Not being able to pick up on facial expressions, personal space, how an individual is standing, what another person’s tone is portraying, and many more aspects of body language can make it difficult to socialize, but the Support for Students Growth Center is qualified to help teach them these skills.
At the Support for Students Growth Center, we provide the social, behavioral, emotional, and executive functioning skills children, teens, young adults, and their families need for a happy and successful life in and out of the school settings. Our team of professionals offers coaching/counseling and social skills groups to help teach skills such as understanding body language to ensure parents do not have to worry that their kids will be unable to make and maintain friendships on their own. So, if your child is struggling with skills like the ones listed above and much more, the SSGC is equipped with the tools to help.
Dr. Eric J. Nach, Ph.D., M.Ed., A.S.D.C., is a Developmental and Behavioral Specialist who specializes in Autism, ADHD and related disorders. Dr. Nach is the founder of the College Life Skills Program where he and his team of professional’s help develop the Emotional Maturity, Executive Functioning, Life Skill and Social Abilities of college students and those high school students preparing for college. The CollegeLSP is a subsidiary program of the Support For Students Growth Center, located in Boca Raton, FL and providing services nationwide.
Basu, P. (2015, December 4). Autism impedes ability to read body language: Spectrum: Autism research news. Spectrum. Retrieved October 31, 2022, from https://www.spectrumnews.org/news/autism-impedes-ability-to-read-body-language/#:~:text=A%20glitch%20in%20visual%20processing,in%20the%20journal%20Neuropsychologia1.