There are so many myths out there about autism and Pathological Demand Avoidance. Sadly, many of them have become entrenched because they were spread by ‘experts’ and even autism awareness campaigns which in many ways have done more harm than good.
Because now when NT (neurotypicals) meet #ActuallyAutistic they have preconceived notions about them. They are a certain set of autistic behaviors rather than an individual.
I am not saying that there is no grain of truth to any of myths. Merely that none of them apply to ALL autistic people. And also even when they do, the reasons behind those behaviors are more often than not what the ‘experts’ claimed.
So for the next few weeks, I am going to explore some of them…perhaps even ask for some guest bloggers from my #ActuallyAutistic friends.
Let’s jump right in this week with…
***People with autism*** lack empathy.
(*** Please make special note that the overwhelming majority of #ActuallyAutistic prefer the terminology ‘autistic’ person/individual. I am using what for most is offensive person first terminology imposed upon the autistic community by others to state the myths for affect. To my #ActuallyAutistic friends I hope you understand and forgive me.)
Not at all! In fact, PanKwake demonstrated wonderful empathy the other night.
At 4 A.M. the fresh water pipe in the upstairs toilet began to leak…seriously. The result was a significant flood into the family room beneath. I discovered it when I came downstairs to get her some water. I started screaming for Cookie Monster…so did she. We quickly worked out where it was coming from and he and I rushed off to try and stop the leak. (Not as easy as it sounds given the high pressure the water was under. We might have looked a bit like an old episode of I Love Lucy at that point.)
But while we were upstairs working on that, PanKwake noticed that the plushies which had belonged to Cookie Monster’s wife before she died were getting wet on the top shelf. She goes into his office next door. Pulls out the small book shelf ladder there. And saves them all. Only the knitted dalek got wet much at all.
You see PanKwake knows how much the Miss Telsa stuff means to Cookie. She and I both respect that. They did spend a quarter of a century together. And I would be more worried if he could just wipe her away than honor her memory and role like this.
But the thing is…
That room is full of PanKwake things too. Her whole Shoppies collection, her board games, even her laptop got wet.
But before she saved any of her things…she saved Telsa’s…because she knows how important they are to someone who is important to her!
That, folks, is EMPATHY!
And when I was having so much trouble with joint pain, she would often apologize when she called me in the middle of the night to get her something. And she even tried to do more for herself too. Only calling me when she could not.
That too is EMPATHY!
I have my own theory though about WHY this myth came to be. Of course, this one is just one person’s opinion. And we all know what they say about those. But hear me out…
I think that the reason ‘experts’ and NTs especially ‘autism parents’ don’t see this type of empathy is…
Much of what passes as ’empathy’ i.e. sharing, apologies, and the like that are exhibited by children are MANIPULATED, GUILTED, and FORCED by their parents.
- Say you’re sorry (even when you did nothing wrong!)
- Let her see your doll (even if it is your brand new one or special!)
- Let him go in front of you, he’s younger
But at least with PanKwake and many of the other autistic children I know especially with Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA), they do not respond to guilt, manipulation or being forced to obey ‘rules’ they do not understand, that are not logical.
So then parents who may not be very good at modelling empathy themselves but rather just talking the talk assume their child lacks it. When in fact, they possess a purer form of it…one that flows from their hearts.
But that is just my theory/opinion. What I do know is…