What Do Educators Say About Autism And Empathy
According to Eric Mikoleit, director of Lakeland STAR School/Academy a charter school in Minocqua, Wisconsin, that specializes in educating autistic students and diverse learners, social communication barriers, narrow interests, and attention to detail are some of the reasons autistic people may have difficulties expressing empathy.
But, he says, they do have empathy however, the levels of empathy vary significantly among individuals.
Autistic people often need direct instruction on identifying the emotional states of others and learning to label their own feelings.
Mikoleit says these skills can be enhanced in autistic students by using modeling, teaching them how to recognize and label the emotions of others, and the actions they must take in response to those emotions.
He says there are curriculum plans specifically designed to help with teaching these skills.
50% of autistic people also have alexithymia a condition characterized by difficulties with understanding and articulating ones emotions, including empathy. So, the coexistence of this condition may partly explain the misconception that all autistic people lack empathy.
However, a 2020 research report indicates that its the presence of alexithymia and not autism that impacts attachments to others, including their parents. Though attachment and empathy arent the same, they are related.
How Do People With Autism Experience Emotions
If you wonder how people with autism experience emotions, here are a few personal experiences:
Emotions can feel very big. So big that they are bigger than myself. Whether it is a nice or unpleasant emotion does not matter. Being bigger than myself always feels uncomfortable. Although, of course, I would rather be very happy than very angry. It feels completely limitless and then I desperately look for limits. Literally and figuratively. Sometimes it goes so far as to hurt myself.
Emotions that arise from a negative situation and / or experience are the most difficult for me. I start rocking , close myself off, pace myself, get restless. I often panic and become anxious about what I experience. And that can turn into a meltdown. When I am very happy I will flap, rock , jump, hum . However, this can also end in an angry mood because I cannot process it.
Building An Interface Protocol
One man with ASD form the UK is a faithful follower of my work. On the release of my latest book he said,
The Aspie person always sounds like the villain in your writing, Kathy.
That hurt. I dont want him to believe I consider him the villain. Blaming someone else for just who they are is certainly no solution. It doesnt get to the heart of the matter. It is such a delicate balance to explore the dynamic of Empathy Dysfunction in order to enlighten people, and yet not blame.
My goal is to enlighten and to search for the elusive interface protocol, so that even without empathy, Aspies and NTs can connect.
Half Of The People On The Autistic Spectrum Are Also Empaths
I wasnt planning on it. It just happened. A whole new insight1
I somehow got onto a youtube page that features a number of autistic videos. And I am going crazy I am shutting down, I want to run, I am crying
WTF is going on?
Turns out that the videos, as videos go, record the emotions of the scenes.
I watch a lot of Netflix series. I also read a lot. And I abandon a lot of books and a lot of series in the middle.
Why Empaths Have Neither Autism Nor Aspergers Syndrome
Reason #1. Aura reading research amply demonstrates this. By Aura reading, I mean Stage Three Energetic Literacy,not the simple I feel vibes sweet beginners version of aura reading, which can be called Stage One Energetic Literacy.
Here are some links to blog articles that can make this Zero in common point clearer.
Autism and Aspergers syndrome? When you can read chakra databanks, the truth becomes stunningly obvious. Neither variation in human consciousness has anything any teensy weensy thing in common with being an empath.
Recommended Reading: Is James Holzhauer Autistic
Reasons Why People Become Empaths: From Trauma To Genetics
Why do people become empaths? Is it temperament? Genetics? Trauma? Neglectful or supportive parental upbringing? As a psychiatrist and an empath, Ive seen that the following four main factors can contribute to heightening ones sensitivities.
Reason 1. Temperament. Some babies enter the world with more sensitivity than othersan inborn temperament. You can see it when they come out of the womb. Theyre much more responsive to light, smells, touch, movement, temperature, and sound. These infants seem to be empaths from the start.
Reason 2. Genetics. Also, from what Ive observed with my patients, some forms of sensitivity may be genetically transmitted. Highly sensitive children can come from mothers and fathers with the same inborn traits. Therefore, it is possible that sensitivity can also be genetically transmitted through families.
Reason 3. Trauma. Childhood neglect or abuse can affect your sensitivity levels as an adult. A portion of empaths Ive treated have experienced early trauma such as emotional or physical abuse, or they were raised by alcoholic, depressed or narcissistic parents. This could potentially wear down the usual healthy defenses that a child with nurturing parents develops. As a result of their upbringing, they typically dont feel seen by their families, and feel invisible in the greater world that doesnt value sensitivity.
The Double Empathy Problem
So, we now know where the myth that people with autism dont have empathy comes from. But there is more to the story.
Because autistics can feel emotions and they can have empathy. However, autistic people might show it in a different way than other people do. And thats where a lot of misunderstanding gets in the way of things. This phenomenon is called the double empathy problem, as described by Damian Milton in a scientific study in 2012.
The double empathy problem assumes that empathy should be a two-way street. In reality, however, neurotypical people often dont put themselves in the shoes of autistic people. They also have much less reason to do so, as the dominance culture is, after all, neurotypical.
As a result, autistic folks have to put in a lot more effort to understand the other and often with less result. And thats because people without autism still assume they dont have to, because of the prejudice that autistic people lack empathy.
For autistic people, this can be a heavy burden possibly related to the psychiatric problems that many autistics have, especially those who camouflage their autistic traits.
Recommended Reading: Does Nick Eh 30 Have Autism
Autism And Social Cues
Social cues are paramount to communication and navigating oneself through society. Social cues come in all forms, including keywords, tone of voice, a persons body language, and facial expressions. Children learn and hone the nuances of social cues from an early age, but for those with autism, social cues can be a challenge.
One study published in PLOS ONE looked at how a fearful face with an averted gaze produced different brain activation patterns in individuals with autism versus those without autism. Using fMRI, the researchers were able to track which parts of the brain were most active while the participants observed images of faces with fearful expressions and varying gazes . The fMRI results showed that brain activation did indeed differ between those without autism and those with autism. They concluded that the ASD participants were unable to engage with emotion attribution or understanding of intent. Simply put, the individuals with autism placed more importance on direct eye contact versus the fearful facial expression. This provides just one example of the difficulties those with ASD have when interpreting social cues and other non-verbal modes of communication.
Its Time To Stop Thinking That Empath Is A Cute Or Trendy Term To Use Irresponsibly
That is my opinion, anyway. And, yes, its a strong opinion from this empath coach.
Because more than any other work that I do in this world, I work as an emotional and spiritual aura transformer in the emerging profession of Energy Spirituality.
I care passionately about alleviating human suffering. Like many others , I do my best to bring people health, healing, spiritual self-authority, and skills that really work.
So here is a summary of Rose Rosetrees personal perspective about what can, and cannot, help empaths significantly.
Blog-Buddies, you may know that Empowered by Empathy was the first book published for empaths in the English language, and many other languages as well.
When the concept of Empath began to work its way over to search engines, most of the hits for empaths were about science fiction.
Since then the field has exploded, with loads of books and experts who coach empaths. Pop culture became more interested in the term Empath, and so people began experimenting with it more serious ways. Folks began teaching empaths, holding support groups for empaths, etc.
Recommended Reading: Is Level 2 Autism High Functioning
What Age Do Autistic Meltdowns Start
Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder are usually clear by two or three years old. The range of behaviors and skills covered here may become apparent between two years old and five years old. Some signs that a child has autism spectrum disorder may include: Not expressing emotion or only a limited range of emotions.
How Can You Tell If You Have Autism
One can tell if one has autism based on whether one has social deficits, exhibits repetitive behavior, and difficulty understanding non-verbal cues. A few symptoms include difficulty making eye contact, not responding to ones name, resistance to being touched, preference for being alone, inappropriate facial expression, and difficulty initiating or maintaining a conversation.
Read Also: Is Dr Shaun Murphy Really Autistic
Is Alexithymia The Real Issue
To determine whether people with autism have normal empathy and emotions, the researchers looked at four groups of people. The groups were divided into:
- Patients with autism and alexithymia.
- Patients with autism but not alexithymia.
- Patients with alexithymia, but not autism.
- Patients with neither alexithymia nor autism.
Their testing found that patients with autism but not alexithymia had normal levels of empathy. Patients who had alexithymia with or without autism were less empathetic, suggesting that it is not autism that is the driver behind the lack of empathy, but the alexithymia.
That being said, people who have alexithymia will still care about the feelings of other people, but they might not know how to suitably respond to these feelings, especially when the feelings in question are strong, such as to show compassion to someone in grief or to be patient with someone who is angry. However, patients with alexithymia are still having emotional reactions. A study in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology found that such patients showed more distress in response to witnessing others pain, compared to people who did not have alexithymia.
In fact, the writers for Spectrum argue that alexithymia, more than autism itself, is to blame for autism being associated with difficulties in recognizing other peoples emotions.
Do You Have Aspergers
Perhaps you are a spouse wondering if your partner has Aspergers, a friend, acquaintance or colleague of someone you suspect has it, or perhaps you wonder if you might have it yourself. How would you know?
In this chapter, I will explain how the process of diagnosing someone for Aspergers is usually carried out, both in general terms and the specific way I undertake a diagnosis. I will describe the types of information that is sought in an assessment for Aspergers and how that information is collected. I will answer the question of how accurate a diagnosis is, the confidence one can have in a diagnosis of Aspergers and I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of having a diagnosis.
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There Are Certain Scenarios I Cannot Be With Lust Is One Of Them
When I lived in Israel, it was a weekly occurrence that I had to go to a therapist every time I happened to see a female dog in heat and the lustful male dogs following her. Same with cats. Same with humans.
I was three and a half years old when I was taken to a barn and raped by some guy I didnt know.
But I was already an empath. And I felt his feeling as if it were my own.
Lust is not a good feeling for a child to feel. Unsettling. Confusing. A disruption. Violence and lust, pain and lust, being left to die and lust Its a miracle I ever grew up. Its been touch and go all these years.
I have never had a healthy relationship with sexuality, desire and now, looking at it today, I am not at all surprised.
Similarities Between Autism And Empaths/highly Sensitive People
Empaths are usually considered highly sensitive people. Highly sensitive people and people with Autism have many similarities. A few of them include the following:
- Both are highly sensitive to stimuli in the environment. This means that changes in light, color, sound, and even emotional changes in the environment can be quite overwhelming for both of them. This especially happens to them when they are in public where there is a chance of overstimulation.
- Similarly, both empaths/HSPs and people with Autism react to overstimulation in a similar manner. People with Autism react with a tantrum or a state of panic. A similar reaction would be shown by highly sensitive people but less in intensity. Both of them would need to go to a quiet place with less stimulation in order to recharge and regain their energy.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Symbol For Autism
Ok Now For The Empathy Part
Two broad kinds of empathy are generally recognized as existing:
- Cognitive empathy is the ability to accurately “read” another person’s emotional state, in other words, deducting how they are feeling even if they do not tell you, or they tell you something else. This is sometimes talked about as the ability to “put yourself into another person’s shoes.”
- Affective empathy is a deeper state of “feeling with” the other person, experiencing their emotions with them.
Some people would add compassion to that list, and define it as empathy coupled with undertaking steps to help a person who needs help.
So, where does the idea that people with Asperger Syndrome lack empathy come from? From the scientifically supported fact that aspies often have difficulties with accurately recognizing emotions in others difficulties with “reading” another person’s mental state well.
Research shows that people with Asperger’s take longer to realize that someone is sad than neurotypical folks, for instance. What about the affective empathy part, then? Studies reveal that most aspies don’t have any problem with that. It may take aspies a bit longer to realize what a person is feeling, in other words, but people with Asperger Syndrome are not cold-hearted or devoid of empathy.
Here’s an excerpt from one ridiculously fascinating paper titled “The Intense World Syndrome an Alternative Hypothesis for Autism”:
Expressing Emotion & Empathy
People with autism sometimes report having strong feelings about an emotional event even as their bodies do not show a typically corresponding reaction. For example, someone with autism may not show any signs of grief at a funeral. Similarly, they might say they are feeling calm when they are showing physical signs of agitation and alertness. To other people, this might appear confusing and untrue.
This leads to the appearance that people on the autism spectrum dont show emotion in ways that so-called neurotypical people would understand, says writers for Spectrum. This is then taken to mean that people with autism lack empathy and cannot recognize feelings, which is an incorrect assumption. People with autism who have volunteered for testing reported feeling typical or even excessive empathy, but agreed that their own ability to recognize and communicate these emotions in ways that neurotypical people would understand is limited.
Researchers have suggested that autistic people with alexithymia will know that they are having an emotional response to something, but they will not be sure of what the emotion actually is. However, researchers are also quick to point out that not every autistic person will have alexithymia, and that autism does not cause alexithymia.
Also Check: Is Level 2 Autism High Functioning
People With Asd Can Experience Empathysometimes Overwhelmingly
One troubling issue which comes up again and again for the autistic women I work with is the question of whether or not they can experience empathy. From what they tell me, they certainly experience empathywhich is at odds with how we tend to think of people with ASD. For many of my clients, the idea that they cant be empathic is troubling.
When were thinking about the issue of autism and empathy, we need to understand what we mean by empathy and to appreciate that there are different types of empathy.
Empathy comes from the German word Einfühlung, which means feeling in. Its difficult to pinpoint exactly what empathy is, partly because there are many different ways to experience empathy, but it includes the ability to sense other peoples emotions and to be able to imagine what they are thinking or feeling. With this understanding, you can respond to that persons state of mind with an appropriate emotion.
Empathy can be further broken down into two distinct partscognitive and affective.
Cognitive empathy is the ability to identify with and understand other peoples emotionswhat we commonly refer to as being able to put yourself in someone elses shoes. An example of cognitive empathy would be watching a newsreel of someone who has been flooded out of their home. Without having experienced that yourself, you would be able to understand just how fearful, sad, and terrible they must be feeling due to the types of emotions that this awful event has had on them.