I subscribe to a Facebook group called United By Spina Bifida. Although most of the posts are from new parents or parents of young children with spina bifida, it is interesting to learn more. Since Ronnie was 15 years old when he joined my family, my exposure to spina bifida was very limited. I feel like I have learned a lot in the last three years, but I do like hearing the perspectives of other parents and other adults with spina bifida. But this past week, I read something that surprised me.
One of the adults in the group posted about adult men with spina bifida not having social skills, and specifically, entering into more intimate conversations very soon after meeting someone. Then many parents and adults with SB agreed with the statements. I had never known that having spina bifida might include a lack of social skills.
Ronnie's social skills are not the best, and they are particularly rough in the area of relationships with the opposite sex. He so desperately wants a girlfriend, and that means he will seek out young women and immediately move into intimate conversations with them. The 'love' word is tossed around after just knowing someone a week or so, and if the object of his attention doesn't reciprocate, he gets very frustrated. Since I monitor his Facebook postings, I can tell that the girls he pursues get very uncomfortable very quickly.
He has had appropriate male role models in his life, or at least the last 4 or so years of his life. And he has my 22 year old son around all the time modeling appropriate behavior. Chip and I have spoken to him about the issue many times also. And just this week, Ronnie's best friend tried explaining to him how he needed to just go a little slower and how he needed to seek out appropriate connections with women. All that did was make Ronnie angry.
So, this is an ongoing challenge and one I need to find ways to assist Ronnie in dealing with, but it never crossed my mind that his behavior could be a result of his spina bifida. And, I still don't really understand the connection, the features of spina bifida that could result in this. That's why I was suprised that so many people agreed with the originial Facebook poster.
Have any of you ever heard of or experienced something like this? Does the comment on Facebook make sense to you? Do you think there could be a connection between spina bifida and lack of social skills, and particularly those that involve interactions with the opposite sex?