It’s a common misconception that people on the spectrum lack empathy. I believe autistic people have more empathy than the average neurotypicals. Here are the reasons I believe that.
My experience with aspie forums and blogs
I’ve read many blogs written by autistic people who were on a rampant about social injustice. I’ve been on aspie forums where members went out of their way to encourage and help other members.
My own experience
I’ve taken quite a few sick feral cats to the vet, paying with money I barely had. That’s how I ended up with three feral cats living in my home. The others I had to put back in the street where I found them because I can’t take them all in.
People seem to think aspies have more empathy toward animals than humans. But I think that’s a myth. I always try to help people. I’ve seen a man throwing up in the street and went over and asked him if he wants me to call an ambulance. He said no, he was OK. I’ve warned kids and grownups to get off the road and walk on the sidewalk. Not that they always listen. I crossed the road to ask a man limping badly if he needed help, even though I was in a hurry.
When I see a sad movie, I fee nothing because I know it’s not true. But seeing a real tragedy on the news affects me for a long time afterward. I always flip channels quickly because I know the effect can be depressing and long lasting. Reading about child abuse makes my blood boil. Some details get stuck in my head years later, and I keep trying to forget them.
So why do many people believe autistic people lack empathy?
We show our emotions differently
An aspie may not know how to comfort a grieving person because he may not have the right words. We don’t always know how to express ourselves. I’ve also been told my face is expressionless, and I know many aspies have a flat voice, I do. People may believe an aspie lacks empathy when he uses this kind of voice and a neutral expression to describe a horrible event that had happened to someone else.
An autistic person might act totally casual at the time something horrible happens to someone, and then lose it completely later. We process our emotions slowly. Or else an aspie can go into shutdown model, which makes him appear aloof.
It’s not that aspies don’t have empathy. It’s just that we show it differently.
‘The Rosie Project’ is a hilarious book about an aspie genetic professor who’s looking for a wife in a scientific manner and then finds out love isn’t something one can plan. This happens while he tries to help Rosie find her biological father. This is an amazon affiliate link. Click to view.