Autism, dogs, family, kids, parenting, special needs, Uncategorized

autism and empathy

You often hear that having autism means a lack empathy and emotion. I know for a fact this isn’t true, both of my boys are empathetic they regularly have and show many feelings. I realize that these feelings may sometimes be more difficult for them, to process then acknowledge and express but they are absolutely present, and they show these emotions just like everyone else.

If you read my last post, you are aware that we lost our dog Handsome this fall.Handsome- you will always be missed. Telling the kids that Handsome was sick and wouldn’t be coming home was very tough. I expected Bree to be angry and very emotional which she was. What I didn’t expect was the level of sadness and emotion from my two boys. I hate to say that I was comforted by the fact that they were very visibly sad and upset over the loss of Handsome.

What I didn’t expect was the level of sadness and emotion from my two boys. I hate to say that I was comforted by the fact that they were visibly sad and upset over the loss of Handsome.

Tyler was sad and wanted to be comforted when we came home from the vet without Handsome. Typically Tyler doesn’t like being hugged or cuddled.  Tyler was able to understand that Handsome was sick and suffering and went to dog heaven. He was devastated, grieved and moved on when he was ready. I actually think he handled it better than Bree, not that I believe there is a typical way to mourn the loss of a pet. I was just impressed with his coping skills and visible emotion.

Tyler was able to understand that Handsome was sick and suffering and went to dog heaven. He was devastated, grieved and moved on when he was ready. I actually think he handled it better than Bree, not that I believe there is a typical way to mourn the loss of a pet. I was just impressed with his coping skills and visible emotion.

I was happy to see him cry and process his emotions so well.  It was a relief to me that he reacted in a “typical manner” I hated seeing him sad, it broke my heart he was hurting, but I’m happy Tyler is in a place that he can handle such a situation.

If this happened a year ago, I don’t think he would have had the same reaction. I think Tyler would have retreated into his own world, and he would have had massive aggressive meltdowns because that’s the only way he could handle tough situations.

Joey is still young, and I’m not sure what the so-called typical response of a four-year-old would be. Joey didn’t really want to say goodbye to Handsome, he was briefly upset, but he was able to jump right back into to youtube videos on his iPad.

Joey is, however, very empathetic, he was mostly sad that Bree and I were sad and crying. Joey would come and give us random hugs and kisses just to cheer us up. So, whoever says that people on the spectrum are not empathetic are totally wrong….

I don’t know if I should look at situations like this and feel relieved when they act in a way that I feel is more normal. I do sometimes feel this way, though and I feel guilty about it. Does anyone else feel this way? Or, is it just me?

I’m totally fine with however they need to act, I just hope I’m giving them the proper tools to handle tough life situations. They see life differently so, when I know they can handle something like this, I know Mack, and I are doing the best we can. As a parent, this is a major relief, a relief that I don’t feel very often since on most days I feel overwhelmed and stressed that we aren’t doing everything the way we should be.

As a parent, this is a major relief, a relief that I don’t feel very often. Most days I feel overwhelmed and stressed that we aren’t doing everything the way we should be.

We try to view the world from their perspective so, we can teach them things in a way that works for them. I don’t think this is an autism thing because I do the same thing for Bree. It could be that I learned this from all the skilled therapists we have had over the past four years. If so, I want to thank them for helping me look at things this way.

When Tyler was first diagnosed with Autism, I worried so much about how he would cope with things and fit into the world that wasn’t  always going to be accepting. Would he have meaningful relationships? Would he be empathetic? Would he speak?  The list went on and on… The answer is yes, both of my boys will be fine, they already have meaningful relationships, and they are empathetic.

Tyler and Joey might not always show emotions the same way the world will want them to. This doesn’t mean they aren’t caring and empathetic. If you take the time and pay attention, they have all the same emotional responses and traits as everyone else you just need to look at the world through their eyes for a moment, and you will see it.

Tyler and Joey both loved Handsome they bonded with him in their own way, and they also processed the loss of him in their own way. Just like Bree did.

I’m happy my first notions on what autism is and what lay ahead for my boys was wrong.

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