Saturday, January 16, 2010

Well Informed Autism Commentary You Should Read: Autism, Empathy and Martin Luther King, Jr. by Lin Wessels

If you are searching the internet looking for commentary about autism by someone who has has real experience with the subject matter on which to base her insights I would recommend you read Autism, Empathy and Martin Luther King, Jr. by Lin Wessels. Lin takes a  shot at some of the many autism myths perpetuated in the media and provides some parental perspective on several common autism myths including the empathy myth which she refutes with her own experiences with her son:
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 The moment I stepped foot in the room, I knew something was wrong. There he stood; such a sad, long face with tears ready to flow at any given moment. All I need do was ask him what was wrong and flow they did. He not only cried; he sobbed. Big, heartfelt sobs ensued. As is common in autism, his communication is somewhat lacking, let alone the sobbing. We were finally able to piece it together; the second graders had watched, “My Friend Martin,” and he died. My son was heartbroken that anyone would treat others so poorly. He was further saddened that someone evil would dare to kill such a fine person as Martin Luther King, Jr. He was sincerely grief stricken.


I immediately recalled a time when he was but a toddler, not able yet to speak. We didn’t yet know he had autism. Perhaps, he’d not yet been stricken by it. He was watching Shrek. As the Gingerbread Man’s leg was being broken at the order of Lord Farkwad, our sensitive Sam wept. My son does now and has always boasted empathy. 


Regardless of what the alleged experts say I accept completely Lin Wessel's evidence, based on direct observation, based on her experience with her child. I have seen empathy in Conor although I can not point to any incidents as dramatic as Ms Wessel has done. Read her comments at AutismOne if you want to gain some autism insights from some one with actual experience with autism ... from a caring parent.



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2 comments:

farmwifetwo said...

Contrary to the posts of late on Asperger's square eight over Xmas... Children with autism have empathy and are social. They may have difficulty processing both... but in our world they have both.

To stay home and miss out is not an option in their opinion. BUT, that doesn't mean that "autism" will allow them to come along. Which IMO is wrong... even though at times necessary.

Stephanie Lynn Keil said...

I have always thought of "empathy" as the ability to put oneself in another person's shoes, which is something I do have much difficulty with and I think that other autistic people have difficulty with, too.

What you all seem to be discussing is "sympathy," that is, feeling sad about someone or something. This isn't the same as empathy but most people get the two terms mixed up.

I feel sad about sad events and people all of the time. But when it comes to having a conversation with someone, with knowing what to say, what they are thinking, etc. I fail pretty badly.