Do aspies lack empathy

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.

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How to tell your child he’s autistic

Here are ten tips that will help you tell your child he’s autistic without making it sound like a tragedy and scaring him.

                                                           Be calm
Your kid is less likely to get upset if you aren’t. The best way to tell your child he’s autistic is in a calm and optimistic manner.

                     Don’t make the diagnosis sound like a disability
Explain in terms of thinking differently instead of not being able to think like everyone else. ‘You do your own thing’ instead of ‘You can’t do what other kids your age do.’

                                      Draw attention to the gifts
When you tell your child he’s autistic, highlight the advantages and gifts of autism, the ability to communicate with animals, to see small details and patterns others don’t, the fact that many aspies are highly intelligent, the super focus, etc.

                  Don’t say it’s impossible, find solutions instead
Try to avoid telling your child he can’t do something. Try to come up with ways to help him achieve his goals.

Example: don’t say, ‘You can’t make friends.’ Say ‘You have your own way of making friends.’ Don’t say, ‘You can’t learn martial arts.’ Say, ‘You can learn with a private teacher, in one-on-one sessions in a quieter environment.’

                                                      Give examples
A great way to explain to your child he’s autistic is to give examples from your child’s point of view. ‘Remember that time when your friend was joking, and you thought he was serious?’ ‘Remember the time you were upset because of the noise in the supermarket?’

                                      Dismiss myths about autism
Such as the refrigerated mother theory, all autistic people have savant skills, autistic people don’t have empathy, etc.

                 Show examples of famous people with Asperger

                             Make sure you know about autism
Learn everything you can before telling your kid he’s autistic. Search the internet, get into forums, and read books.

                               Let him know there are others like him
Tell your kid there are other kids and grownups on the spectrum. If your child is old enough to practice in forums, introduce him to forums for teens with Asperger or autism.

                                           Avoid the victim thinking
Let your kid know the reason why some kids may not want to talk to him is because they might think he’s not interested because he doesn’t make eye contact, or because they don’t know how to talk to him, not because they’re mean or because everyone hates him.

Tell your child bullies pick on him because they believe he’s vulnerable, not because everyone hates him. This isn’t a conspiracy.

Tell your child he’s not weak, and he can defend himself against bullies.

‘All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome’ is the perfect book to give a child who’s just learning about his/her autism. It describes Asperger in a humorous and optimistic way, using beautiful pictures of cats doing something a little aspie might do, accompanied by a short explanation. This is an amazon affiliate link. Click to view.

What is an aspie shutdown

An aspie shutdown is when an autistic person loses touch with the world around him. An aspie may become unresponsive in a shutdown. He may lose the ability to talk and might not understand what is being said to him. He may start walking with no destination in mind and be unable to stop. People can get lost this way. Or sometimes a person on the spectrum can’t move or responds. He just freezes.

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                     What are the triggers of aspie shutdowns

Sensory overload, mental fatigue from having to socialize more than we’re capable of, anxiety, a change in routine or a change in plans can lead to a shutdown.

                    What does an aspie shutdown feel like

Numbness, confusion, surrealistic. Inability to form a coherent thought. The person may be unaware of his surroundings and what’s going on around him. There’s no fear, no embarrassment. It’s not a pleasant experience, but at least I didn’t find it too horrible. Maybe because it didn’t last more than a few minutes, fortunately.

                                          My own experience

I went with another lady I knew to talk to some friends of hers. I thought it was going to be just one ride on the train. I was mentally prepared for this, but when we got off the train, she said we have to take another bus.

After getting off the bus, I was expecting a short walk straight ahead, but the walk proved to be much longer than I’d expected and with turns right and left. I was beginning to space out at that point.

When we got to her friends’ house, someone shook my hand and greeted me. I couldn’t speak or move. I just stared into space. My friend told her friend that I’m just tired from walking too much.

                  How to help an aspie during a shutdown
Best thing to do would probably be to take the aspie to a quiet place, with as few people as possible. Some aspies may not respond, and someone just has to take them by the hand and lead them away.

‘Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s’ is John Robison’s story. He loved to take radios apart. He loved electronics and video games. he couldn’t communicate with other people the way he desperately wanted to. Bullied as a child, living with an alcoholic father and a mother with mental problems. This is an amazon affiliate link. Click to learn more.

What is a home sleep study like

What is a home sleep study like for an aspie? Here’s my experience.

My doctor gave me a referral to a home sleep study. I had picked up the devices and had taken them home with me.

I was given an explanation on how to use them, a watch around your wrist that monitors your heartbeats, something that looks like a heart monitor that I had to place at the base of my throat, and a finger clip.

What is a home sleep study like for someone with sensory issues? The finger clip put horrible pressure on my finger, and I had to take it out before it drove me crazy. I had a choking sensation from the monitor and had to take that off, too. There was no way I could’ve fallen asleep like that. I only left the watch on my wrist

I got a call from the sleep study office. They told me not to bother showing up for the results. That was my experience with a home sleep study.

It’s probably easier for neurotypicals because they don’t have all these sensory issues to deal with. If it weren’t for these problems, the home sleep study would’ve been very easy and comfortable because it’s done at home. All you have to do is simply put the equipment on and go to sleep.

‘Say Good Night To Insomnia’ is a guide to curing insomnia drug-free by using cognitive behavior therapy, a program that was developed and tested at Harvard medical school and had lessened insomnia in 80 percent of patients. This is an amazon affiliate link. Click to learn more.

Asperger and taking things literally

Many people on the spectrum take things literally. What are the reasons behind this?

Two reasons why aspies take things literally

                                               Seeing in images
I read in a book once that someone’s eyes ‘went soft’. An image of eyes that resembled runny eggs flashed through my mind. Although I knew what the expression meant. It wasn’t a nice picture. The pupils expanded, and the eyes turned to trembling liquid.

There’s a connection between seeing in images and the aspie tendency to take things literally.

                                    Not understanding sarcasm
Someone had told me she used to have a dog, and the dog was so dumb, it didn’t know it had teeth.

Is the food in the party enough to feed a whole African village for a month?

Is the music loud enough to wake the dead? (Imagine all those zombies stumbling alone, scolding in their slow voices. I don’t suppose they can call the police, though).

                                        My personal experience
The aspie tendency to taking everything literally can be scary sometimes. When I was little, a neighbor had told my mother a pipe is about to explode. I was absolutely terrified because I thought the whole building could go down in the explosion, like it was a bomb.

One of the things I remember from my childhood is hearing songs that kept talking about the singer being in heaven, this is paradise. I had no idea those were love songs. I thought they were talking about heaven.

To me, heaven was a beautiful garden filled with colorful flowers, bushes, and trees. A waterfall in the middle, and dogs and cats roaming free, aspie heaven.

‘The Complete Guide To Asperger Syndrome’ explains the perception of feelings in oneself and others, bullying, language, social interactions, friendship, and relationships for people on the spectrum. It’s a must-have book by Tony Attwood and a window into the life of a person with Asperger. This is an amazon affiliate link. Click to learn more.

Four reasons why aspies like cats

I’m an aspie cats’ lover and animals’ lover. I film feral cats wherever I go. I have three feral cats living in my house, and one more that leaps in through the window at mealtimes. I used to feed feral cats in my parents’ house when I was little. I was fascinated by them.

Here are four reasons why aspies love cats

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Cats don’t make noise. They don’t bark. They even walk quietly. They have a very light step, being born predators.

They’re not herd animals. They need love, but they also need their alone time. Sounds familiar?

Honesty. Another reason why people on the spectrum like cats is that cats are honest, like most aspies. If your cat doesn’t like something you do, it’ll let you know in no uncertain terms. You won’t have to read between the lines. It’ll scratch, growl, or run away.

They like routine. They like their food bowl in exactly the same spot every time.

Here’s why every cat that ends up in an aspie’s house has hit the jackpot.

Aspies often don’t have too many people come over. We usually don’t throw parties. Cats hate crowds and noise, just like we do.

Cats like the aspie toe-walking because it’s quiet.

Cats appreciate humans who don’t make eye contact.

So, not only aspies like cats, but cats like aspies.

If you want an entrance into the animals’ world, ‘Animals In Translation’ is the right book for you. Temple Grandin’s book states that consciousness can exist without the ability to form words and that animals focus on details and not the whole picture, just like autistic people. The book explains why cows lick tractors and dolphins sometimes kill without an apparent reason. Click to find out more.

How society can support autistic people

                               Raising awareness at a young age
One way society can support people on the spectrum is teaching what autism is in elementary school. It’ll help in early diagnosis because children with Asperger syndrome might recognize the signs in themselves. It’ll also help neurotypical children become more understanding and supportive.

                     Self-defense classes for autistic children
Both martial arts training and safety tips, given by an instructor with training on teaching kids on the spectrum.

                                Miniature petting zoos in the city
A section in the park can be reserved for friendly dogs and cats. Any pet owner can bring his pet to be petted.

Homes for autistic individuals should give every person a room of his own, no roommates. It’s difficult for a person on the spectrum to share a room. We need more privacy and quiet than most people.

                                Help for parents of autistic children
Society can support autism parents by offering free nannies so the parents can get the sleep the need so desperately. Some parents are so overwhelmed with the responsibility and stress, they might put their child in a home, especially if they have other kids to take care of or if they have more than one child with special needs.

Another way to support autism parents is by providing centers where a parent can talk to a professional and seek advice.

                                              A quiet supermarket
The community has adjusted to the needs of people with autism by inventing quiet hour in selected supermarkets. How about a supermarket with soft lights, lower music, and a quieter ringing of cash registers? Like quiet hour, except it’s going to be like this during all opening hours of selected supermarkets.

Hand dryer, can’t you be quieter? That noise gets on my nerves. It’s completely unnecessary. Surely in this day and age of modern technology, it’s possible to make quieter hand dryers.

I believe the community does want to support individuals on the spectrum, but people simply don’t know how.

‘The Rosie Project’ is a hilarious and sweet book describing Don Tillman’s method at looking for a soulmate the way he would solve a scientific equation. The aspie genetic professor moves on from the wife project to the father project by helping Rosie look for her biological father, learning alone the way that finding a wife should take on a less scientifically approach. Click to view.