Autism - empathy & intuition
Something most people believe autistics lack. Not true. All autistics are different though, so true.
The definition of empathy is "the ability to understand and share the feelings of another". Perhaps the difficulty with this lies in the word 'understanding'. Autistics' brains are wired differently & the 'what' and 'how' they understand our feelings is probably varied & very different from the way we understand them.
I often feel that people think I live this exhausting (true) thankless life where I get nothing back from my non-verbal son Henry making them wonder how on earth I cope with it all.
I get SO much from this boy, words could never describe, & I truly believe his level of empathy & intense connection to me goes way beyond/higher than anything I/we could ever comprehend. It is a privilege to be so close to this boy & to be learning from him every day.
On a basic level, Henry absolutely does understand the taught emotions of happy, sad, angry both in himself & others too. Rather wonderfully he does not concern himself with things like greed, jealousy & manipulation. He is pure, he is literal & he lives in the present. His world is also all about him & on his terms only so, so far, things like having empathy for say the sick, the hungry, the poor, the climate etc. are most definitely lacking.
From a very young age Henry has been so clever & simple in how he sees things. I remember him bringing me a beach bat & ball in our little courtyard one day (age 5) & gesturing to me to play with him. It was one of the first interactions he had ever initiated & the joy on my face & in my soul was obviously very visible to him. For many months thereafter every time I got upset or frustrated he would bring me the bat & ball having associated it with making me happy. Associations aside, his ability to recognise my feelings (down to the microscopic fibre level) & his desire for me to be happy are extraordinary.
I think all autistics are acutely aware of how they are making us feel & want desperately for us to be patient, to not give up on them, to forgive them & accept the things they just cannot (are not able to) do like us. They are not disabled, our world dis-ables them!
The definition of intuition is "the ability to understand instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning". Hmm, the words 'conscious reasoning' makes me think that perhaps autistics aren't very intuitive since their thought processes are often based on fact, logic & reasoning. I always describe Henry as highly intuitive though. For me, it's more about how in tune he is with me & his environment that is on a whole other & far superior level, I believe.
Then I came across this definition: "Intuition is receiving input and ideas without knowing exactly how and where you got them from..." Now that sounds more like it and exactly how I feel Henry is with the input he receives, that input for him being largely visual.
The other day I was so tired & so upset over once again losing my sh*t at Henry for something he will never understand. I should never ever do this, I know, it always makes me cry out of shame & guilt for how badly I can react & behave & seem to expect from Henry sometimes. Raising an autistic child can make you feel like a complete failure as a parent numerous times per day.
Henry pulled my hand towards the sofa, lay me down, fetched my favourite blanket, placed it over me & stroked my head! Utterly astonishing to see such tenderness from an 8yr old non-verbal autistic boy who cannot read or write or even process language terribly well, who is also highly sensory, has a recent ADHD diagnosis plus gut & goodness knows what other issues he is dealing with daily.
Well, that's the non-academic mum angle on empathy & intuition from me then & here's wishing you all a very merry Christmas indeed. Good luck autism families.