Monday, 16 June 2014

Can autistic children exhibit empathy?

There used to be a time in our house when we thought our son had a hard time registering emotions. It wasn't easy. You could cry and he would scream and cry with you. You could be angry and he would be the first to show his anger. For awhile we thought these were signs that he couldn't figure out the emotion. That he didn't know how to react to the overwhelming aspect of facial cues, body language, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I don't think there has ever been a time we were more wrong. He gets the emotion and the facial cues, what we thought was confusion and aggression was actually his understanding and trying to deal with the overwhelming empathy he was feeling. 

For instance, now, if we are crying or mad he will come to us a little upset and tell us, "No crying, it's ok." Or if he hears me raising my voice, He'll ask,"You ok?" as a signal that he wants me to be ok and stop being angry. Usually that will take me down at least ten notches. He's super intuitive when it comes to other peoples emotions. The obstacle he sometimes faces is remaining calm a midst other people's chaos of emotions. He always wants to make sure they are ok, to help in some way. He has a genuine love for others. He loves meeting new people. And when he takes a liking to them, he's got their back and doesn't want to see them angry or cry. 

We've had to teach him that when we cry, hugging or saying "it's ok" is appropriate. That when we're angry, asking if we're ok is appropriate. We've taught him the etiquette of dealing with his emotions and helping others when their down. And what we found is that it's not lack of knowledge and proper reaction. It's just helping him figure out how to process what's going on inside of himself first, then helping the other person feel better, by smiling, by hugging, by singing a song. 

I think we expect a lot out of children. Especially if they have to deal with being super empathetic. We ask them to learn so fast, to grow up, be ready for this world, act normally. Why not let them slow down and really examine their worlds as they develop, so that they don't miss key ingredients of understanding that may help them change the world around them, and make it better than what we have handed them.

Maybe the reason we're in the mess we're in today is because we don't slow down to notice others.


Me and my husband asked ourselves, after we got the assessment back, what would happen if our boy ends up being solely dependent on us? (which, now, I don't think will happen) And without question I thought, it's no biggie. However, long he takes in learning the world around him is not going to bother me. He's my son. I'm here to love him, guide his growth, and be a foundation of strength for when he needs it. And I wouldn't want it any other way. 

As always thanks for reading.

Much Love and Gratitude,

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