Autism and Empathy: The Car Accident

by Kitty Kat

One of the things I constantly hear is that people with autism cannot feel empathy. Let’s get this straight: This is crap. Just because they show emotions differently does not mean they do not have them.

Case in point: My youngest, Porkchop, was 1200 miles away visiting his dad when there was a car accident. Roger did not know the details —  just that the car had rolled, that his brother was fine and with his grandparents, and that we would be picking him up that Saturday.

For the next week, every time we went to the store, Roger wanted to buy his brother presents because he was in an accident and didn’t get hurt. This was his way of showing he cared. So, the whole theory that people with autism don’t care is junk.  Some just show it differently.

Roger didn’t know how to show it, so he wanted to buy him stuff. Finally, he settled on a Hot Wheels car, but then he was concerned that the car might remind his brother of the accident. After what felt like ages of our talking to him and telling him that the car was fine, he finally decided to get it for his brother and could not wait to give it to him.

We were not in the hotel for more than a minute, and he was getting the car out of the suitcase and giving it to him.

About the Author: Kitty Kat and her husband have four children, including her son Roger, who has autism. This piece first appeared on her blog, No Guile: Life and Other Stories from Autism, and is reprinted here by permission.

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2 thoughts on “Autism and Empathy: The Car Accident

  1. Ann Abrey says:

    My son Daniel is autistic.
    He shows empathy on more levels than an average person. When Steve Irwin (crocidile hunter) died he cried for days. It was as if he lost his best friend. He was so concerned about, his children not having a father around, who was going to take care of the animal at his zoo (he knew they had a staff, but would they do it to Steve’s standards), No one can teach the world about animals and our planet like he did. He was sad because the whole world would miss him too.
    Everytime I get sick he makes chicken soup and ginger ale for me. When his brother was hurt he made him an ice pack. When he sees someone cry he wants to hold them and comfort them. This s just a small amount of empathy Danel shows everyday. He cares about family, friends, strangers, pets, wild life, our world, our planet. And he shows it everyday.

  2. Rachel says:

    I can really relate to Roger’s fear that the car might remind his brother of the accident. I am often concerned about getting people things that they might associate with difficult events. I spend a lot of time going through all the possible associations and making sure that I don’t inadvertently cause pain. If that’s not empathy, then what is it?

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