Empathy

Do individuals on the spectrum lack empathy? Just because you cannot see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. That’s how I often feel about autistic people and empathy. There are many theories around whether or not empathy is felt by autistic people. Some of these theories say that we don’t feel empathy because of brains that are wired to be extremely male (as though men don’t have feelings and women aren’t on the spectrum). On the other hand, some believe that people with ASD shut down their feelings because they feel too much empathy. What is known is that empathy requires not only recognizing and relating to another person’s emotions, but also responding to those emotions in the societally correct way. When it comes to responding to anything in the neurotypical way, autistic people often choose a unique form of expression. So maybe we’re just not empathetically responding in the way that neurotypical people might expect.

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