Autism and Empathy

26 02 2008

I’m sick.

My head hurts. My nose is going to explode. I ache all over. On top of the flu– I managed to hurt my back… probably from shoveling snow…

J has been the best Nurse a gal could want! When he got home from school yesterday I was a lump on the couch… bottles of pain relievers, cough medicine, Vicks, heating pad and mostly full Kleenex trash can all around me… two “squishy” pillows, three blankets and a thermometer in my mouth.  A sore sight… J came in, fished his pack of Kleenex out of his back pack and gave it to me, went to get me a drink and sat behind me to brush my hair.

When I first found out J has Autism I read everything I could put my hands on. So much of what I read referred to folks with Autism as “detached”, unable to relate to emotions and unable to express them. This is not J.

I thank God that J laughs out loud! He shows compassion and empathy. J tells me that he loves me and means it. He understands feelings and at age eight he knows the words that relate to how he feels.  He may not always express his emotions appropriately but, he always expresses himself.

He is the best nurse a gal could want!

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6 responses

26 02 2008
wilddaisy33

There you are….was getting worried about you! Sorry you’re sick, but glad you are up and about. Hope you get better soon! 🙂 Darcy

Thanks, Darcy! I’ve been stuggling just to keep up with the dishes… Thanks for the well wishes! I’ll be back to normal soon!

26 02 2008
awalkabout

*sends you my Nyquil from a few weeks ago and a cup of hot tea* Feel better!!

27 02 2008
FXSmom

Our house has had the sickies going around too. Not enjoyable. Hope you get well soon 🙂

Hope you guys are doing better! We’ve had a rough go of it lately and are finally human again! awalkabout sent me her Nyquil– I’m forwarding it on to you!

28 02 2011
juliajs

Thank you for this post, brief though it may be. I know you wrote it some time ago, but I just found it and it reinforces what I know first hand. I have Asperger’s, which is on the autism spectrum (and not always easily distinguished from HFA in older kids/teens/adults, from what I understand) as I’m guessing you already know (since it sounds like you’ve done your homework on the spectrum, as most parents with children on the spectrum do, I’m sure :-). I’m almost 33 and was only Dx’d about 6 or 7 months ago. As a child AS wasn’t on the radar (wasn’t in the diagnostic and statistical manuals until within a couple years of when I left home internationally, and a few months here in the U.S.), and, as an adult, it was masked by severe PTSD. I do have empathy. I have almost too much empathy. I get tired of reading that people on the spectrum “don’t have empathy.” Sometimes I don’t know the appropriate response (so I don’t really respond– I don’t want to say something completely wrong and get into trouble) and people don’t think I care. Sometimes I can’t tell when someone’s in pain, so obviously I won’t know there is reason to be empathetic. And sometimes it’s too overwhelmingly intense and I need to pull away to avoid a meltdown… but I DO have empathy. Obviously your son does as well 🙂 Thank you.

1 03 2011
hfamom

Thanks, Juliajs! I’m not on the spectrum and only have what I observe and what is told to me… thank you so much for confirming what I thought– and, Temple Grandin has written! 🙂 The social expectations are so high for all of us and the difficulty in predicting appropriate responses must be really hard… thank you so much for helping me to better understand my son! Do you blog? I’d love to read more of your thoughts! Esther

1 03 2011
juliajs

You’re welcome 🙂 You may not be on the spectrum, but you’ve spent years raising a child on the spectrum, so your observations should be taken quite seriously; after all, how many people know your son like you do? I think the experts (whom I typically respect greatly, by the way) ought to listen more to what parents of children (or even adults) on the spectrum, as well as people who live their lives on the spectrum, have to say about their experiences with ASD’s.

Far too often they seem to have their minds made up, and filter out anything that doesn’t fit what they believe, even from those who are living their lives on the spectrum, or with children/loved ones on the spectrum. Maybe that is simply human nature, but it can be frustrating nevertheless.

Yes, it can be really hard, and I wish I could say that at my age I’ve gotten so much better at it, but it often is still a problem. Memorization over the years has helped, however (“When ___ happens, it’s almost always right to say ___”). That isn’t fail proof, however.

Anyway, yes I do blog, but have only written one post about AS (I plan to write many more, however), and it actually was on this very topic (empathy– it was a response to an article I read that talked about how experts are beginning to realize that yes we DO have empathy… I was ecstatic, but still needed to vent a bit about the misperception that we “don’t have empathy”). My blog has a lot of my poetry (much of it very dark, from a very difficult, angry and PTSD dominated, pre-Dx time in my life), and one short story. This is where you can find my blog: http://juliajs.wordpress.com/ I also have a channel on YouTube where I’ve started posting video clips about my experiences on the spectrum (5 so far). If you’d like to check them out, they are here: http://www.youtube.com/user/JustEmbers?feature=mhum

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