If I hear one more description of autistic children using the words, "lacking empathy," I'm going to scream. (Apple didn't fall far from the tree, did it)?
This is just another way the "limits" of the experts rattle the actual facts.
Let's not mistake an impaired ability to read social cues or facial expressions, for a lack of empathy, okay?
My child may not appear empathetic on the spot, but if you explain to her what's going on, she's actually hyper-empathetic. She feels deeply for others which is no surprise, given her acute sensitivity to everything else in the world.
Riley is frightened of a bee at an outdoor market. Frightened to the point of panic. She runs and when I catch her she screams. SCREAMS! Glancing around as I try to comfort her, I notice a toddler, who is about to cry, because of Riley's noise.
"Riley." Kneeling down and taking her hands I keep my voice even, calm.
"Riley. There is a baby over there and your screaming is scaring her."
My daughter is in full blown panic. Her body is shaking. I move my hand to her heart and it's beating fast, like a rabbit. Moving her own hand to her chest, I place mine over hers. This is how we acknowledge what's happening in her body.
Yes body, you are afraid. Let's calm you down.
She looks in my eyes, hers pleading. She doesn't like to feel like this.
She glances in the direction of the baby, and gulps, stifling her noise, tears streaming down her face.
We breathe together. We've been practicing deep breathing since she was three. She's getting really good at this. Five big breaths is usually all it takes.
She looks at the baby again. Her fear is still high, but she knows what it's like to be scared. She does not want to scare the baby.
Impaired social awareness, perhaps.
Lack of empathy.