There’s misconceptions floating around that autistic people don’t feel emotions the way neuro-typical people do. That’s got to be thrown into the rubbish bin. We feel emotions but in different ways. I was skimming twitter last night and came across a thread by a lady who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in her 40’s. She was worried, after some abuse at the hands of her mother that she, too, was an emotional wasteland. But, with help she’s come to realize it’s a different type of emotion she feels. A deep lump pit of heavy stone in her gut that swells to her throats, cuts off her air and chokes her until she can gain her composure. That sounds a lot what I experience, to be honest, when I feel overwhelmed with empathy about people hurt, or killed. Why do you care so much, asks my friend Josh? And my answer is I don’t honestly know. I just feel their pain, their loved ones pain at the loss. I feel sorrow that a bright light has been snuffed out too soon. It’s pretty much exactly what Alyzande described with the rock in your stomach spreading to your throat, flooding tears into your eyes and you can’t breathe. You just have to stop, and think “you’re ok Deb, your family is okay, you’re not in danger” and take deep breaths and calm down. And it passes. But to say I don’t feel emotion is hogwash.
My friend Josh, who is also autistic, experiences emotion in a somewhat different manner. He’s rather callous and uncaring about people he doesn’t know and won’t see again. But for those who’ve shown him kindness and concern and that he’s let in past the barrier he’s very kind and solicitous. Asking how I feel, if I’m upset, a few times a day, and that I’ll be okay if I am feeling a bit upset. His empathy and compassion extends to those in his circle. He’s a good friend.