Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Autistic Awareness: Empathy


  1. Squawkers for President!

    Very well said.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Milfred and Gonzo <3<3<3 Bev and Squawkers!

  4. I like this video. It makes a good point. Thank you for making it.

  5. *De-lurks*
    Thank you. That was beautiful.

  6. I cried when you put squawkers on the desk!


    Yes, this makes a good point.

  7. Thanks for this. It is indeed a dangerous idea to promote.

  8. I love all of these videos, they say the most complicated things in the most simple terms.

    My own "empathy" issues aren't quite as jarring as that example but they probably look similar to the casual observer.

    In that situation, my mind would be racing for the proper "NT-Speak" words to say and I'd probably end up blurting out something that just made things worse. My testing/rejecting possible answers routine would probably make me look like I was jumping from foot to foot and then yes, I'd find some excuse to sneak out. Again, not so obviously... I'd be edging towards the door - which probably would make things worse in the long run.

    Thank you for posting this.

  9. Yeah, I tend to be wordless for these situations. I empathize with facial expressions like by crying or being sad and a sad face showing. It's like when I was in a class and a girl found out her friend committed suicide, and I felt a deep sadness for her, even though I didn't know her beyond a face in the crowd. I was surprised how people could go on with their talking and laughing after she'd left, as I had been impacted greatly with a need to help in some undefined way, and yet unable to lend any words of support other than "I'm so sorry" or "there, there".

    I think most NTs actually feel pretty uncomfortable in these situations too, whether it's something inherent to them or if it's because the emotional impact disrupts them, the difference being that NTs are generally able to call up their social vernacular to address the issue immediately with a far greater frequency than autists do.

  10. I did like this video but I'm not entirely sure what was going on. Did you leave the room because you were upset at the cat dying and had to go and see Squawkers to feel better?

  11. Hi, Bullet,

    There are several contributing factors to why I would leave the room. First, the conversation is happening at a speed where I am not able to participate. After asking the initial question, "How was your weekend?" I can't find a break to get in with any comment. I start to feel my presence is pointless. Even if there was a moment for me to speak, it would take several long seconds to put a thought into words; I would fear (based on past experiences) that the other people would then find my remarks insincere or otherwise lacking.

    Further, I am never sure my face is doing what it is supposed to. Sometimes my facial expressions appear odd to people or seem to be expressing the opposite of what I feel. I am not able to monitor this well even if I try very hard. It turned out, in this video, that my face was (as far as I can tell)okay, but I wasn't sure at the time.

    I brought Sqauwkers to my friends office to sit with her for awhile. Because she knows me, she would understand this as a strong expression of caring.

    Thank you for asking about this, and giving me the chance to explain.

  12. Thank you for the explanation. I know what you mean by "I can't find a break to get in with any comment", that happens to me all the time. It's one reason why I prefer talking to people on a one to one basis, rather than in a group. I've never actually thought about my facial expressions, which is a good thing for me I suppose.
    Oh I see, it was the friend's office. I'm sorry, I was caught up with, erm, looking at your glasses and at the words on the screen. It's obvious now what was going on. And it was a caring thing for you to do.

  13. I find it very hard to get the right tone in these situations. But then I hate cats. I think bringing Squawkers to her office is perfect.


    Going to link you again Bev, your videos are the biz!

  14. I am known for offering my Flickablankie to people who are having bad things happen to them. I can not manage to comfort people myself, but I find my Flickablankie comforting, and I can offer her (or my Nicki--a plushie malamute doggie) to comfort them. I know most folks I have been around are not comforted by plushies the way I am, but it is all I can generally do, to offer what comfort I can.

  15. This video had me in tears. It made me feel understood with an intensity that took me completely by surpise.

    At times in the past I have been characterized as cold and not very emotional. With my ex boyfriend I had the issue for years that he felt he needed more empathy on my part, when he was feeling sad. Seeing him sad or despaired made me feel sad and despaired. And I did what I tend to always do, when sad or despaired: I withdrew.

    It took me years to realize that feeling his sadness actually *is* empathy, and that I was not lacking it by any means.

    I also remember trying to do practical things for him, and asking whether there was anything I could do to help or make him feel better... but somehow he was looking for a different expression of empathy than I was capable of offering.

    I am neurotypical, or at least I think so. I am not entirely sure. But I don't think it really matters here. The video seems to also address a broader topic beyond an autistic perspective on empathy. I see it as a message about normativity and about the importance of being aware of the possibility that people might express emotion in nonstandard ways. It stresses the importance of a certain basic humility in communication, of a sensitivity to the fact that our inferences about others' emotional states are always imperfect.

  16. Thanks Bev for posting this. Often in a conversation I don't know when to jump in. By the time I'm ready to contribute what I was about to say has been overcome by new events in the conversation and my comment is then stale, so, again, I say nothing, as I begin processing the next cluster of information, then rinse and repeat. xD


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