Self awareness and body concepts

When looking at the development of a child one must put into perspective the different levels of self awareness and body concepts that a child needs to “master”.

It all starts at a very early age with aspects like:  “does the child recognise him-/herself in a mirror or on a photo” and then later (by around Grade 3) a child would need to demonstrate self awareness and body concepts skills such as:

  • The ability to describe their own ability, interest and strengths
  • The ability to tell you why their own body should be respected

People with Autism battle with self awareness and the levels at which they battle is also a spectrum.  Each person will experience self awareness and body concepts on a different level and many would have no problem with recognising themselves in the mirror or on a photo.   They would be able to tell you what their names are, what their address is and when their birthday is.

The problem more often than not comes in when an individual needs to be able to understand their own nature, who and where they fit into a social circle or recognizing the need for change in order to progress.   Many people with Autism want to interact with others but they have difficulty recognising or understanding others thoughts and feeling.  Research has also shown that most people with Autism have difficulty recognizing or understanding their own thoughts and feeling.

When a parent or teacher understands that a child with Autism has difficulty recognizing or understanding their own thoughts and/or feelings as well as the thoughts and/or feelings of others encouraging and managing social interaction amongst learners or sibling becomes less challenging.

For most everything children do is “behaviour” linked and when one child pushes another child off a bike because he wants to ride it “time-out” is given when in fact the only missing link could be that the child wants to play together but he does not understand appropriate protocol and/or self awareness and body concepts.

Ilse Kilian-Ross

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 - 6 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.