Autism and empathy – Here’s another way to look at it

EmpathyEmpathy:
The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

There really is a severe lack of empathy where autism is concerned. Allow me to demonstrate.

  • You’re at a grocery store and your child has a complete meltdown and someone says “Can’t you control your child?”
  • You go to a restaurant and your child has trouble sitting still and someone says “Those people really need to discipline their child.”
  • You look really tired and worn out and someone says “Parenting can be tiring. You’ll get it eventually.”
  • You’re explaining the struggles that having an autistic child can bring and someone says “Oh please. All kids do that!”

Do I need to go on? Are you starting to see where the lack of empathy comes into play?

And this is just for the parents. Here’s a new list, from the autistic’s point of view:

  • Just go and play with the other kids. You’ll have fun if you just make yourself do it.
  • It’s not that loud. Just deal with it.
  • You’re doing it my way whether you like it or not.
  • Look me in the eyes when I’m talking to you. Stop being so rude.
  • You have to give me a hug or you don’t get what the others got.

Again, the list could go on and on. But I think you’re starting to get the picture.

I won’t even go into the whole bullying thing. I think it’s safe to say we can all figure out where the lack of empathy comes in when someone is bullied, autistic or not.

Yes, there’s a very distinct lack of empathy but it’s not necessarily coming from the autistics themselves.

Sure, some autistics might not understand the thoughts or feelings of others. But then again, some autistics might just not care. Maybe it’s because they don’t understand but maybe it’s because it just doesn’t matter all that much to what they’re doing at the time. Then again, maybe some autistics care very deeply and are just unable or incapable of expressing it.

That’s a very basic and rudimentary way to look at it. For more details and examples, check out Autism and Empathy.

The bigger problem, as I see it, is the lack of empathy towards autistics, not from autistics.

Instead of wondering if someone is caring about you or your feelings, consider how you can care for theirs.

That’s the great thing about feelings. You don’t need to get them to give them.

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of http://www.stuartduncan.name. My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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2 Responses to Autism and empathy – Here’s another way to look at it

  1. mona lee July 20, 2012 at 11:50 am #

    Good post. I really don’t understand why what a child does bothers other people when the child is not even near them. I’ve tried going in other parts of a store away from the crowd but I honestly have had people follow me to watch.

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