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Do some aspies have lots of empathy? My seven year old . . 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next  
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bmarie
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 5:36 pm    Post subject: Do some aspies have lots of empathy? My seven year old . . Reply with quote

Two teachers now have hinted that my seven-year-old girl may have Asperger's Syndrome. I agree that many of the characteristics I read about fit her: lack of understanding nonverbal social cues, physical small and gross-motor delays, absolute honesty, not modulating voice well, social immaturity, less eye contact than normal, seeming to come in out of the blue in conversation, as if she has heard no one else speaking, being lost often in "the wonderful factory of my mind, mom." She doesn't have a prevailing interest, unless you count the imaginative world in her head, where she prefers to be much of the time.

However, she is wonderfully empathetic--almost more so than other people, so I have always ruled out Asperger's syndrome. She won't eat animals because it will hurt them (from age five). She is always thinking of kindnesses for others. Her kindnesses are often grand and pointed, though, rather than subtle and natural.

Our question: Can you have Asperger's syndrome and still be in tune to emotion and highly empathetic?
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makuranososhi
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are degrees to everything... you may also consider that she's using experience and analysis instead of empathy. At that age, I'm not sure to what extent such a process would exhibit; when young, I found the concept more of a predictive process, trying to figure out what came next. Kind of like doing a jigsaw puzzle, but the pieces only come out the dispenser, one at a time, and at irregular intervals.


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UndercoverAlien
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

don't be misleeded asperger syndrom usualy fits to emotional but bad at expresing it im very emotional to somethimes i have the feeling like i killd some one if i do nothing wrong just some very small detail that might have had to do with something that made me feel bad or something anyway its the opposite of what you might think
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Mysty
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My thinking is, amount of empathy in those with AS varies from person to person, and varies with the situation, and varies depending on what one means by empathy.

I'm thinking, from what you say and what I've read from people here, that what you see from your daughter is something that some people with AS have, so it doesn't mean she doesn't have AS.


Last edited by Mysty on Thu Oct 30, 2008 5:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Gurath
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think so. I am the most empathetic person in my family, which is saying something. I can tell at a glance if someone is upset and I usualy go and just be near them and attempt to figure out whats wrong. (not that I can actualy do anything to help but I guess people find it comferting to tell someone about their problems). My Psychologist called me the "weather vein" of my family as I become upset if there is to much turmoil and am calm when everyone else is calm.
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musicforanna
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 5:47 pm    Post subject: Re: Do some aspies have lots of empathy? My seven year old Reply with quote

bmarie wrote:
Two teachers now have hinted that my seven-year-old girl may have Asperger's Syndrome. I agree that many of the characteristics I read about fit her: lack of understanding nonverbal social cues, physical small and gross-motor delays, absolute honesty, not modulating voice well, social immaturity, less eye contact than normal, seeming to come in out of the blue in conversation, as if she has heard no one else speaking, being lost often in "the wonderful factory of my mind, mom." She doesn't have a prevailing interest, unless you count the imaginative world in her head, where she prefers to be much of the time.

However, she is wonderfully empathetic--almost more so than other people, so I have always ruled out Asperger's syndrome. She won't eat animals because it will hurt them (from age five). She is always thinking of kindnesses for others. Her kindnesses are often grand and pointed, though, rather than subtle and natural.

Our question: Can you have Asperger's syndrome and still be in tune to emotion and highly empathetic?

Of course she may possibly have AS. What usually defines AS is the difficulty in reading nonverbal cues and difficulty in developing social skills, yet having normal IQ and language development. I think the "lack of empathy" part of the diagnostic material is somewhat outdated because it was only really addressing how it typically presents in males and not females. I'm an aspie female (got diagnosed at 17). I've been overly-sensitive most of my life. Heck, when I watched "The Little Mermaid" in theaters when I was 6 or 7, I went with my aunt and younger sister (both neurotypical), I cried something fierce when Ursela took Ariel's voice. That's one of many events I remember just like yesterday.
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DW_a_mom
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would say my AS son is very empathetic, but more in a broad sense. He doesn't know what to do when the person next to him is upset, and unless he is looking for it he may not pick up that they are upset, but he cares a lot about others and their feelings, making the world a better place, etc. If I say I'm upset or sad, he becomes the sweetest kid in the world. It seems more that the cues he operates from are different, than that he isn't empathetic.

Given that he is very social and emotional, I had a hard time accepting the idea of AS when it was first brought up. But I do believe it fits him to a T. Just that when AS kids are treated the way they need to be treated, they ARE all these things, quite often: social, empathetic, etc. Not all, but many. It's a matter of degree and security. Almost like AS kids are afraid to be these things because of bad feed back, not because they don't the desire for it.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've wondered this about my daughter, who has a few Aspie traits but doesn't necessarily fit the entire DSM-IV criteria. She is highly empathetic and maternal at the age of 3. One way to view high empathy is that your daughter may very well have future avenues opened to her in the area of social justice and advocacy.
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Kajjie
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My advice would be to get an educational psychologist to tell you whether or not she has AS. Is her motor co-ordination particularly bad? Could it be dyspraxia?
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mysterious_misfit
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DW_a_mom, correct, as usual!

Aspies can look like they don't have empathy because somewhere between the emotions and the outside of the body, wires get crossed. I think the mechanism can be different in different people, different situations, different ages. Maybe a person with AS just assumes that the other person already knows they feel empathy for their pain. Maybe the body just freezes like a computer on overload. Sometimes the empathy really does come out and get expressed.
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musicforanna
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 6:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DW_a_mom wrote:
Just that when AS kids are treated the way they need to be treated, they ARE all these things, quite often: social, empathetic, etc. Not all, but many. It's a matter of degree and security. Almost like AS kids are afraid to be these things because of bad feed back, not because they don't the desire for it.

That's prettymuch how it's been my entire life.
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Biogeek
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The word "empathy" as used by AS experts is misleading. As they define it, it has more to do with the inability to read social cues and so-called deficits in "theory of mind". It's a cognitive, not an emotional, term. Sympathy is what the OP is describing. Once an Aspie knows someone is hurting (empathy), they can often be very emotional and caring (sympathy).
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0_equals_true
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the lack of empathy idea is flawed. It is true the non verbal communication can be difficult, and ASD will have difficulty relating to other people. However empathy is more than relating. Like many emotions empathy is actually a delusion. It requires the person to suspend belief; I order to "put yourself in someone else’s shoes" to drive this emotion. These delusions aren't all bad in fact this is pretty natural behaviour. We need to look at humans in much the same way we study behaviour of other animals. Empathy is not a virtuous selfless thing but simply a part of human behaviour. As it happens empathy is applied highly selectively, so there is a social expectation how to 'correctly' use it and display it. Indeed it varies somewhat in different cultures and groups. Like many of these emotions it is not one way, there is a gain. Empathetic display is good for social connections and standing and also it will light up parts of the brain. There was a study that showed those people who like give to charity, doing so lights up the same part of the brain as people who like to gamble, are amorous or aroused. In other words the pleasure centres of the brain. People are "self grooming", self stimulating to feel good. There are many ways to achieve this. When I talk of empathic display I don't mean sympathy exactly, I mean demonstrating that you are in fact connected. There are inappropriate times to do this like I said. So as far as not having empathy is concerned, it more a case of being slightly misaligned from common inherent behaviour (and empathy is only one area where it might be noticeable), behaviour of which humans understand very little of at the moment.
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0_equals_true
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

By the way your first name is not 'bain' is it? Very Happy
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neshamaruach
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 30, 2008 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi--I'm an undiagnosed (but, hopefully, soon-to-be diagnosed) Aspie. I started another thread on a similar issue a couple of days ago called "Can you be an Aspie if...?" in this same forum. In addition to all the insights people have offered here, you might find some useful insights there as well. It was a great discussion.

Like your daughter, I am quite sensitive and caring. What I'm learning is that it's not the feeling inside that is the issue. It's the inability to express it in a way that is understandable to most people. The DSM-IV extended text for AS refers to an inability to show empathy, not an inability to feel it. I've always thought that I've shown loads of empathy, but I realize now (at the age of 50) that I haven't shown it in a way that people (with the exception of my husband and daughter, who understand me) can take in.

And as others have said, I am clueless when it comes to reading subtle cues, but I am *very* empathic. I can walk into a room and feel what everyone is feeling, and I think this is actually quite common in AS/autism. The problem is that it all comes in faster than I can process it, and so I'm unable to be present for the more subtle cues that other people, with better filters, can see. This is also the reason that I find it difficult to hold eye contact. I become so flooded with all the "soul" energy that comes out of a person's face that holding eye contact is like tying my hands behind my back and forcing me to look into direct sunlight. And because it takes me a long time to process all the "data" coming in, I have to look away so that I feel like I have the "space" to figure out what is going on.

Hope some of this makes sense and is helpful.
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