It seems to me that the pathology view of Autism Spectrum “Disorder” (note the quotes) loves to paint those of us on the Autism Spectrum as cold, uncaring and unempathetic people. Of course this is not the case but it just goes to show how much the American (and largely, international) media and the medical community at large has brainwashed the general public into thinking we’re absolute monsters.
I won’t say I’m the most empathetic person on this planet (far from it!) but I’m not completely devoid of empathy as some would like to think I would be. I’m actually more empathetic than a lot of neurotypical people I know, so much that that my few neurotypical friends will often confide in me before they do anyone else.
It doesn’t bother me in the least, either. Heaven knows I’ve bitched about my personal problems to these people on multiple occasions and have tolerated it. I imagine for a combination of reasons I deeply connect with what few friends I have and so I tend to take on their problems as though they were like my own, and it gets to where I can even start to feel their pain in some way.
Right now I have not one, but two friends facing the very real possibility of divorce. Let’s face it: divorce sucks. Part of the reason I never want to get married is so I don’t ever have to go through that. I’m single so I don’t completely understand the whole inner workings of it but I’m glad the friends that are feel free to use me as a punching bag as it were. Maybe being an outsider helps? Maybe being able to look at things from a logical as well as emotional perspective gives me an edge here? That doesn’t make it any less painful for them or me, but I imagine it does help.
Of course, empathy isn’t always negative or painful. There is also positive empathy. Last night I was at The Flying Saucer over in Garland (just Northeast of Dallas) and struck up a conversation with a really cool guy sitting at the bar next to me. We talked about our past, where we’ve been and what wound us here. He asked me about my tattoos and what they meant. He talked about what he wanted his first tattoo to be. We talked about life, spiritual matters and maybe even got a touch political.
As we talked I found we had a lot more in common that I thought we ever would have (mixed heritage including some Scottish lineage, love of beer, ink, etc.). We talked even about autism and how it’s affected me. He swears he might be autistic in some way himself and claimed he thinks that everyone might very well be somewhat autistic (I don’t know as though I buy that theory – but we both did agree that ultimately who the fuck gets to decide what’s “normal” anyway?).
Anyway, I digress. The point being is that despite what a lot of people have been led to believe, autistic people can and do show empathy. It might be in a different way than most people are used to seeing it (or it might be as neurotypicals would display it). Whatever the case, autism is not to be equated with sociopathy in any way (including the myth that autistic people are more prone to violence than neurotypicals) and I wish people would get that through their thick skulls (that includes you APA, MSM, etc.!!!!).