Today, we talk about something that I have wondered about for YEARS now! I see this question an awful lot on Facebook groups etc and it got me thinking…do I lack empathy in every day situations, do I feel emotions like everyone else or do I really lack the ability to feel sad, angry or happy? I guess I can understand why I might think this way when I’ve been called a robot or a loner before in the past, someone who doesn’t care about other people’s feelings but i do, I just can’t express it to others in a way that is acceptable to others.
Far to much do I hear people saying
”Children with Autism are unemotional”
”They have no interest in interacting with others”
”Real life is to intense for anyone with Autism, they need to isolate themselves!”
I know you can just google ”Autism and Empathy” and find many sources talking about the issue but I don’t always like to research other sources for information as I go through stuff like this everyday and I know how I feel or don’t feel and it’s not arrogance, just real life experience and It might only benefit me or it could help others, who knows but after everything I’ve gone through when listening to what someone else thinks is right, I feel that sometimes, I have to believe in myself every now and then.
From my experiences, I have heard people refer to me in this manner, that I have no interest in interacting with other people my own age or in a working environment, that I’m quiet and don’t have much to say which I know is not true at all but I just feel a bit shy and sometimes need a little help to get going! I’m an individual that needs another person to start off the conversation because I don’t always feel confident enough to do so myself and it can make certain situations in daily life quite awkward, such as if someone is upset or angry and they talk to me about it, I might not always respond in a manner that they would expect and it has caused issues for me.
At one point in my life, I was useless at reading people’s faces and being able to tell if someone was sad or happy and it made life hard because others got mad at me for being ’emotionless’ or ‘selfish’ for not caring and those words hurt because I have always cared if someone was in a crisis…I just can’t always turn on the waterworks or generally appear to be upset by something. It took longer for me to get it than other children but it does eventually happen but my problem was that people generally seem to make their mind up about someone almost straight away after meeting them, making it hard for me to prove to many people that I can understand other people’s emotions but through years of experience and understanding, I think I can say that I get it better than a lot of people who don’t have Autism.
I suppose it’s easy to remember what feelings are when you have a memory like an elephant…seriously, I can recall events in my life that everyone seems to have forgotten about…my earliest memory is when I wasn’t even 1 years old yet! I can remember most incidents where I got it wrong because I couldn’t tell if the other person was feeling a certain way or not and It has helped me in my adult life but when I think back, I begin to remember that perhaps I have always understood emotions…I just didn’t know what to do with them yet, how to deal with sadness or anger, I had nothing to get upset about when I was a child…I was called a very happy child by most…it was only when people began to notice something wrong with me, how I acted differently than most children that things began to change…isolation teaches a person a lot about the world!
I have been called a serious individual who tells it like it is, I don’t hold back and I am brutally honest about everything but why is that? Why is it that I choose to not hold back from the cold hard truth when it comes to a crying friend, co worker or family member? Well to be honest here, I just don’t see the point…I just can’t see a situation where sparing someone’s feelings would help a situation out at all and that doesn’t mean I don’t care, of course I do but if something needs to be said than more often then not, it’s me that ends up saying it to the person
Rather than saying that I lack empathy, I feel that the actual answer is that I feel other people’s emotions too much, to the point that it’s difficult to cope sometimes, it’s not that I don’t feel other’s pains or joys…more that I feel them far too much. When I speak to a friend about a problem they are having, like partner issues or just life in general, I can feel that they are upset and in turn, that makes me upset as well because I feel like their emotions generate and can spread to me. I don’t enjoy seeing others cry, makes me want to cry and it’s like I’m being overloaded with sadness and it can feel like a burden when they look to me for some advice.
I rarely cry anymore and that includes going to funerals etc and it’s not because I don’t care, I feel great pain and misery but just because I don’t cry doesn’t mean that I don’t feel anything…sometimes I feel that I express my feelings more than most people I have known in my life, or that I’m just very good at masking my true feelings from the world…because I have to.
Point being is that I don’t think for a second that someone with Autism lacks empathy nor will they not care about your situations, they will but they might just express that in a different way to what you imagine they will, they won’t always tell you what you want to hear to make you feel better…sometimes we just tell the truth, sure it might seem cold and uncaring but maybe the world just needs to grow up a little…you know, we can’t all through tantrums because someone says something mean on the internet or TV!
Some people just take a little longer understanding feelings but that doesn’t mean that other should take them out of situations where they can slowly learn about it all, I feel that this would make it harder for them to understand and process emotions from other people.
People with Autism feel empathy! What appears to be coldness to you might not be so, for all you know, it might just be an overload of emotions that they struggle to cope with… we aren’t emotionless, if anything we’re too emotional! Or as Vegeta would say about it all