Sympathy and Empathy

Do you sympathize or empathize with others?

Probably… but most likely not all the time. There are things that we just don’t understand. If you have never known someone who died, it’s impossible to empathize with someone who had a loved one pass away. If you have never had the experience of being teased or bullied, you can’t really empathize with someone who goes through that every day.

So… why do we ask if people with autism can empathize?

I don’t understand the dichotomy between what questions are appropriate to ask of people with autism and people without it. If you feel sympathy, why wouldn’t someone with autism feel sympathy? If you can empathize, why wouldn’t someone with autism be able empathize? We’re human too… We may not sympathize or empathize in everything, but no one can. We all have different experiences and can only understand what we’ve somehow experienced.

Anyway… rant over… I just had to get that out.

My best friend is homeless right now and just had her phone stolen… and I am definitely empathizing… And I just don’t understand how anyone could not empathize at some point. Empathizing is part of being human. Just because I may not be able to express my empathy like others or relate to certain things doesn’t mean I don’t empathize. I empathize as much as anyone I know… and I think everyone else with autism does too…


9 thoughts on “Sympathy and Empathy

  1. Good for you. Of course you can empathize. I think maybe sociopaths can’t but all the autistic kids I’ve known have great empathy and sensitivity. Sounds like you are a good friend. .


  2. Wow I think you read my mind again 😉 I get so wound up when teachers think that just because my son might not be showing an emotion on his face that he is not feeling it the same as others around him. Instead I see all this social thinking stuff up on the walls of his classroom last year with literature about “tuning in” to others thoughts. What about people tuning into him and how he thinks? I’ve seen my son start to cry and have a hard time holding back the tears because he sees a little girl crying. I’ve seen my son practically lose it because he is afraid and worried for his little sister who is 4 because a boy we do not know has sat beside her on a ride . I think there are lots of well meaning people who are making assumptions about Autistic people and are not taking a moment to take a closer look. I personally believe for my son that he feels things more deeply and has to deal with painful memories in his own way because of that. He lost his Grandfather to cancer 2-1/2 years ago and I don’t think that professionals realize how deep this has gotten to him or that he is still processing it. But why is that? Because he’s a child? Because he was non-verbal at the time? Because he is Autistic. Well done post again:) I needed to read this:)


    • Yeah, I wish people didn’t assume so much. People with autism are just as diverse as everyone else and yet people are so quick to blame things on autism or assume that we’re all alike. I just don’t understand it.


      • Have you read anything yet on “presume competance” and taking the “least dangerous assumption”? There are some interesting articles on this in terms of anyone with a disability.


      • In our situation we have found folks that “say” they presume confidence and don’t assume but then we see that even systematically they are not intentionally following their own ideals. If he reads “boo” instead of reading “boot” does he know how to read this correctly? Or is their another way for him to show that he knows but his mouth and brain are not cooperating right now. Why assume that he can’t read but instead ask him him to print the word and see what happens. My son has a teacher that assumed at the beginning of the year that he was not understanding her during class because he wouldn’t answer her. I told her that it’s the beginning of the school year, he’s suss-ing her out, thinking about what she is saying not to mention getting used to the new room and some new peers. She welcomed our insights but I cringed when she first started talking to us. I couldn’t help but wonder what my son had been feeling then because he notices everything.


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