Thursday, July 18, 2013
People with autism have no empathy?
There is a great big difference between being able to show feelings and being able to feel them. Just because someone has problems showing you how they feel, doesn't mean they are incapable of feeling anything. And yes, I'm talking about for other people. This is a hurtful classification that spreads stigma.
As a high functioning adult, when ever I see someone in trouble, the first instinct I have is to help them somehow. That's not because I'll get some reward for doing it (I don't), but because that person needs help. Since that's my first instinct, I would assume I have some empathy for how that person feels in their plight. I actually care about peoples feelings very much. This might be why I did over 19 years worth of work in protection and law enforcement jobs. It might be why I'm very protective of my family. I love them.
People who take the time to get to know me also know that I care about others very much.
I've also personally met several on the spectrum who voice that they have feelings too.
The lower the functional ability of a person on the spectrum, the harder it is to interact with the world around them. That doesn't mean they are incapable of caring or feeling. I can remember when people used to think there wasn't anyone inside of those people at all. Studies have proven that wrong.
So what's the problem with our showing empathy? Living with any level of autism is awkward and difficult. We care what people think, but have a hard time interacting with that. Recognizing social cues is extremely hard, but that doesn't mean we don't care. You might have to explain things to us a little extra so we can get it, but again; that doesn't mean we don't or won't care. It doesn't mean that other peoples feelings don't matter to us.
In reality, we want to function, we want to fit, just like anyone else. When I realize that I missed how someone else felt about something, I get angry with myself. I think: "Dammit, how could I have missed that?" And then I want to apologize. People with no empathy don't want to apologize.
These "professionals" who write us off as having no empathy are doing just that; writing us off. To them, Asperger's or any autism is just like any other mental illness or psychosis and that's dead wrong.
So, next time you hear someone saying that we have no empathy; look them in the face and say: "I'm sorry you feel that way, but you're wrong." And then just walk away. I know not all of use can do that. I also know that there may just be enough of us who can. Let's blast this myth out of the water, shall we?