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Old 12-17-17, 04:10 AM
Sam Vimes Sam Vimes is offline

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Thumbs up Re: Empathy: I believe People with ASD -DO- HAVE EMPATHY

Hi Hubble
I want to answer as I think I might help with a bit of my experience.
So first a bit about myself for perspective, I'm 45, Software Developer, two teenage children with a partner for +20 years, I was only diagnosed with ASD at 42 but have had all kinds of issues before then, they just weren't diagnosing ASD in adults until recently.
I have taken the Empathy Quotient test Empathy Quotient test and got less than 5.

Originally Posted by Hubble View Post
My partner has Asperger's Syndrome, and I know he does feel empathy because when I have told him about people in my life passing away, he feels sad for me. He even cried when I was crying about my Uncle passing away.
I'm the same I feel deeply the pain that others have and it makes me hurt with them and I really want to help them get better.

Originally Posted by Hubble View Post
My view of Asperger's (I don't know about the rest of the spectrum) ...
It is now all the same spectrum, Asperger is no more the DSM V has it all as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and your partner would today be considered as Mild ASD. The ICD used here in the UK is set to change in line with the DSM in the next edition ICD 11. This links to NAS page that explains in more detail.

Originally Posted by Hubble View Post
... is that it is a condition where the person has an inability to pick out the important parts of the sensory information they receive, so they take everything in at the same level, which can be very overwhelming given that their brains are probably structured like normal ones for the most part, just without the part that filters sensory information correctly. As a neurotypical my brain just tries to process the important parts of what's happening, but I believe people with Asperger's cannot do this. That is why people with Asperger's cannot look at faces easily (too much emotional information, and it feels too intimate in a way), why they have excellent recall of some situations in their past (my partner can remember and describe events like he's looking at a photograph or a movie, to a level of detail that I cannot manage), why they find noise overwhelming, and why they cannot understand implied meanings of things that are said to them.
Yes exactly, excellently put!
I'm always trying to follow the NT (neurotypical) view, trying to guess what they will find important and I get better at practice and age. Still, it is a challenge to guess as there is very often something completely different that stands out to me as the most important. Usually what stands out to me is the pragmatic and logical, example abstract conversation:
  • me: guys we need to first do xyz in order to enable abc (the pragmatic what needs to happen).
  • NT: eye roll, Vimes, We are discussing big boss opinion and colleague feelings and politics.
Originally Posted by Hubble View Post
I know my partner is a gentle and loving person, even so he sometimes says things that sound hurtful to me without meaning to. It is impossible for him to use implied meaning in what he says, because his brain prevents him from being able to learn it as he doesn't process it from other people when they are talking to him - also, when I say things to him he takes them as if I was someone with Asperger's saying it to him, and obviously I take what he says as if it was someone with a neurotypical brain saying it to me! I think that is where the communication issues between us arise from.
I'm certain he is gentle and loving and doesn't intend to hurt it is good that you see that.
For me it is very much the case, I can't hurt willingly, or rather I find it really hard and it pains me. Sometimes you do need to give bad news which causes pain and I hate needing to do that.
That said, as the EQ test reveals and others keep telling me is that I just don't always pick up on social cues that I should and I often miss that something is hurting someone or I'm expected to take a hint or 10. I just don't until too late or out of context or not at all. Some of it can be learnt but not all, and because I'm also impulsive and have strong emotions, due to ADD, then when I enter a conversation that I'm passionate about or have strong opinions in then my training is in a part of my brain that my ADD brain cannot access because my amygdala and left brain are running the show. So due to my ADD the controller in my brain is overwhelmed or not up to the task, it should be routing everything to my right brain in equal measures as the left and towards the frontal lobes that can put things into perspective, connect it to the "bigger picture", and acknowledge the messages from the amygdala but limit their effects.
So the effect is that my reasoning and responses can be very painfully logical to others and driven by the most primal instinctive emotions that I'm not even aware of. I'm also Alexythimic which means I'm not necessarily aware of my emotions. This also means that I can easily lose my cool and so I either avoid interactions where I know I will find it difficult to keep control or try to set exit points were I can disengage and leave if I find emotions are rising and simply leave until I regain control.

I don't find this to be an issue when talking to many with ASD, (not all it is a spectrum), because they are speaking my language and so I don't get triggered in this way.
Yes you are right there is a communication issue, to a certain degree you are speaking two different languages that happen to use the same vocabulary.

Originally Posted by Hubble View Post
We both have ADHD though, which I think is why we felt a connection to one another when we first met. I also think his ADHD interacts with the Asperger's in interesting ways. It makes him more spontaneous and silly than he would otherwise be with just Asperger's, but it can also be negative in that his Asperger's prevents him from picking up the importance of things I say that are emotionally-based, and then because his Aspie-brain has registered it as "not important", his ADHD-brain fails to act upon it! That can be very difficult sometimes, but I love him so I try to be as understanding as possible, and as direct as possible when I tell him that he hasn't done something he should have in these sort of situations.
I expect it is hard for you to guess or conjecture how he understands what you are saying. That is expected and if you work together then with time and patience (yes I know this is the ADHD forum so perhaps patience is not in abundance ) and some practice you can become just as intuitively close as any NT couple. Even if I may say; I believe when you do start to connect intuitively then that connection will be stronger deeper and more persistent than for your average NT couples because we ASD tend to be really good at maintaining and nurturing the elements in our lives that have become an integral part of it and we don't like to change... You will find with time that you can predict his actions and responses with uncanny accuracy, and complete his sentences and know he will be there for you.
You will always need to prompt him and nudge him and such but no relationship is perfect.

For me, it is easier because my partner also has right brain damage through a stroke or similar at birth so we don't have this communication issue.

Having children is likely to be your next question, as in will he be able to be a good father. I can't answer that but we have done alright I think.
  • 15-year-old daughter, has some signs of the same difficulties but very mild and is doing really well in school with grades in the 7 -8 out of nine and set to take maths, computer science and Art in her A-levels. She is very creative and a good artistic eye and she has a nice group of similarly minded friends that do well at school etc.
  • 13-year-old son, likes math computers and is very friendly and caring also has grades in the 7-8 out of 9. He has also some of the symptoms but very mild and is a bit hyper and has rather hyper friends

Apparently, we are the coolest parents because of how much we engage in the game culture, we are both avid computer game players and over Christmas, I'm the Dungeon Master for them in Dungeons and Dragons game if you know what that is

Originally Posted by Hubble View Post
I'd be interested to know what other people think of what I've just said, so please respond and let me know (if you have Asperger's, I would like you to try to be as nice as you can if you disagree).

I thought your post was very good and insightful and I do agree with you. I hope my answers help.

Last edited by Greyhound1; 12-17-17 at 12:29 PM.. Reason: D&D link
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