Are neurotypicals unable to empathize with us?

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Amik
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26 Aug 2008, 3:02 pm

It's often said that people on the autism spectrum lack empathy, but do you feel like neurotypicals lack empathy towards us? I think it's a two way street. I think we simply tend to feel emotions over different things than them. We don't always get it why they get upset over some things that seem minor or normal to us, but in the same way they don't get it why we get upset over something that seems minor or silly to them and therefore they don't empathize with us either.

Does that make sense? Have you noticed the same?



patternist
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26 Aug 2008, 3:08 pm

Judging by the behavior of people around me, I think lack of empathy is very common.



CityAsylum
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26 Aug 2008, 3:10 pm

Amik wrote:
It's often said that people on the autism spectrum lack empathy, but do you feel like neurotypicals lack empathy towards us? I think it's a two way street. I think we simply tend to feel emotions over different things than them. We don't always get it why they get upset over some things that seem minor or normal to us, but in the same way they don't get it why we get upset over something that seems minor or silly to them and therefore they don't empathize with us either.

Does that make sense? Have you noticed the same?

Very well put!

I run into that frustration every day. The whole business of Aspies supposedly lacking empathy was invented by NTs who can't seem to figure us out at all; indeed, they tend to be horribly judgmental and devoid of empathy themselves.

The difficulties usually lie with the innate inability of most NTs to easily grasp concepts that sit outside of their mindsets, so they resort to calling us weird.

I'd like to see that whole empathy guideline for identifying us abolished, because it is totally inaccurate.


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Postperson
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26 Aug 2008, 3:12 pm

yes, it is a two way street, the things they accuse us of apply to them too. different species almost.



TheLemonSquish
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26 Aug 2008, 3:16 pm

I agree with CityAsylum. I wouldn't exactly consider myself a mind-reader, but I can be empathetic.


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tomamil
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26 Aug 2008, 3:29 pm

very good observation. its often a problem for them when i say or do something inappropriate or dont show the appropriate emphaty for someone or something, but they too dont understand why it is so big deal for me when someone makes fun of me or even worse unjustly accuses me of something. i find many neurotypicals quite careless. maybe if they were more aware of the whole autism spectrum, but most people i know have no idea that there is also the high functioning part of it. so after all they have an excuse too. the main difference is that they have no idea about our excuse.


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i_Am_andaJoy
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26 Aug 2008, 3:40 pm

yep. all humans seem to understand people like themselves more easily than people that are different. NT and Aspie both.

Stuff like, "just cheer up" or "stop freaking out" are certainly not very empathetic, and seem to be NT standbys. I certainly hear them a lot.

But then, I often say, "stop being fake" which is probably the same type of demand, and seems to be something the other person is just as unable to do.


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Mum2ASDboy
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26 Aug 2008, 4:58 pm

NT's who have no empathy towards those on the spectrum need educating and FAST!
They MUST understand that a tiny thing like a change in routine or a favourite thing lost IS a big deal and can throw one into complete confusion or worse.
Telling an aspie or autie 'never mind' or 'get over it' when say the bus timetable is lost is like telling someone to 'get over it' when a loved one has died.

I am one NT who has been educated and is learning all the time :)



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26 Aug 2008, 5:12 pm

Unfortunately the fact of the matter is, if people simply don't get what you deal with on a daily basis, they just aren't going to relate.. and that doesn't just have to do with only autism, that goes for other issues. HOWEVER those that are open minded will be empathetic and try their best to understand as much as they possibly can... in other words, they are the ones that actually do give a damn and the sad thing is, they are more than the exception than the rule. I have a lot of respect for them. As for everyone else... well yeah they seriously need a lot of educating but many of them don't care to be educated and will continue on being stupid and uncaring. It's sad but true.


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alba
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26 Aug 2008, 5:38 pm

CityAsylum wrote:
Amik wrote:
It's often said that people on the autism spectrum lack empathy, but do you feel like neurotypicals lack empathy towards us? I think it's a two way street. I think we simply tend to feel emotions over different things than them. We don't always get it why they get upset over some things that seem minor or normal to us, but in the same way they don't get it why we get upset over something that seems minor or silly to them and therefore they don't empathize with us either.

Does that make sense? Have you noticed the same?

Very well put!

I run into that frustration every day. The whole business of Aspies supposedly lacking empathy was invented by NTs who can't seem to figure us out at all; indeed, they tend to be horribly judgmental and devoid of empathy themselves.

The difficulties usually lie with the innate inability of most NTs to easily grasp concepts that sit outside of their mindsets, so they resort to calling us weird.

I'd like to see that whole empathy guideline for identifying us abolished, because it is totally inaccurate.



Amik and CityAsylum you said what you said beautifully. I agree with both of you.



princesseli
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26 Aug 2008, 5:51 pm

This is soo true, Im surprised Ive never thought of it. In fact this might be one of the biggest reasons why Im here and root of a lot of my bitching about NTs. Being female, Ive had some NT females attempt to emphasis with me thinking the root of my problems were similar to their experiances when there not. So about 3/4 of those cases have turned out disasterous causing even bigger problems for me. So I dont readily trust people as much. My mom will go around accusing me doing bad things to people when they try to help me. The thing is, they do not know what its like to be me. They have no idea.

As for aspies in general, I think we have a difficulty showing empathy so we are seen as cold towards NTs. NTs in general often dont understand us because we're very different, therefore cant emphasis with us. And Im also guessing that a lot of aspies dont emphasis with each other either.(correct me if Im wrong) So empathy in an aspie world is often not there.



JohnHopkins
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26 Aug 2008, 6:37 pm

There's an unsettling tendency on these forums to refer to 'NTs' as a whole, as a group, as if they're all the same, whereas if one of them did that with us, or say, black people, then they'd be a prejudice bastard. I'm not saying this is an example of it because the original post is fair and even handed. But a lot of posts on here seem to be 'NTs are like that and we are like this,' and worse, sometimes 'and we're right!.'



seasongster
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26 Aug 2008, 7:06 pm

^ that's human nature, though. not saying it's ok, or good, but it's understandable.

tomamil wrote:
i find many neurotypicals quite careless. maybe if they were more aware of the whole autism spectrum, but most people i know have no idea that there is also the high functioning part of it. so after all they have an excuse too. the main difference is that they have no idea about our excuse.


that's the thing, right there. most people have never heard of aspergers syndrome, let alone know anything about it. people who DO know something about aspies tend to be more empathetic.


it's similar to a cultural difference, in a way - if you were british and had never learned that some people come from greece, spending time with a greek person would be terribly confusing because although they look like you, they don't act or think like you. i think that's probably what people who are neurotypical experience when they meet an aspie. they don't know anything about aspergers, so they are confused and frightened. it's hard to empathize with someone you're afraid of.

i know that personally i didn't even hear about it until i was sixteen, and there was very little information anywhere to teach me about it. most of what i know comes from personal experience with aspies in my life.



cavac
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26 Aug 2008, 7:37 pm

Amik wrote:
It's often said that people on the autism spectrum lack empathy, but do you feel like neurotypicals lack empathy towards us? I think it's a two way street. I think we simply tend to feel emotions over different things than them. We don't always get it why they get upset over some things that seem minor or normal to us, but in the same way they don't get it why we get upset over something that seems minor or silly to them and therefore they don't empathize with us either.

Does that make sense? Have you noticed the same?


Yes very. In combination with many NT's lack of logic, communication often feels like you're talking through an online translator. The words come across but the meaning is completly lost.

Add to that that Aspies often state the obvious logical explanation that might upset the NT's, it's a recipe for communication breakdown.

Example from my life: Neighbor (NT): "Oh my god, XY died last night!" Me (AS): "What did you expect? He had cancer for 3 years?. It was bound to happen. At least it's over." After that, he didn't speak to me for over a month.

Conclusion: My fault was not to realize how broken he was. His was not to realize that i was actually happy for XY because his ordeal was finally over.



9CatMom
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26 Aug 2008, 7:43 pm

I think of myself as pretty empathetic, although I am not without common sense. I can put myself in my family's shoes, too. I know that their frustration level has to be pretty high at times. I can empathize with the frustration level of both the child unable to do everyday things and of his or her parents who deal with it and worry that the child may be dependent on them for life. That has made me reluctant to ever marry and have children. I worry that my own children could have the same difficulties as I have, to a much more severe degree.