21 January 2008

The Penny Looks Sad

I don't know how common this is among autistics, but for many inanimate objects, I feel very emotionally connected to. Not as emotionally connected as with other people, but I seem to be able to express it much more clearly for non-human things and objects.

Today I apologized to a window decoration because I tore it. It was out of curiosity, as to how it would look and feel if I tore it, and it was a conscious decision I made to tear it. It made me feel sad, though.

I feel more sadness for people, when other people are hurt (either by me, other people, or other things, such as natural disasters). However, I don't show it in the ways other people seem to do, or expect me to do.

I'm not sure exactly in what ways my external appearance indicates to others that I am not emotionally connected, but I do know that these assessments are usually wrong (the exceptions being when I defended myself against someone attacking me, or if I do not feel sorry for someone who has done something awful and I feel they deserve it.

However, simply not liking someone is rarely grounds for me to feel that they "deserve what they get". I will still feel sorry for that chatty, materialistic girl who entered my class in sixth grade and made fun of me even though I told the boys, who criticized that she wore too much makeup, to give her a chance, when her next boyfriend treats her badly.

Unfortunately, because we express things differently, we are rarely listened to when we say that yes, indeed, we do care.

After only a few short years from when I was diagnosed at age 10, though, I had heard enough of the misconceptions about autism that by age 15 I was parroting back that I was practically emotionless, like a robot. I insisted that I had no empathy, that I was a strictly logical being, and that I had excellent rote memory.

None of these were true.

So I would caution anyone against taking the assumptions found in the medical literature as a factual representation of how all (or most) autistics are. This goes for any autistic person reading just as much as any non-autistic person.

1 comment:

Bev said...

Yes, I have these sorts of thoughts and feelings about objects frequently. The title of this post really grabbed me. I know exactly what it means for a penny to look sad. And I agree with you that this doesn't mean we somehow "prefer" objects to people.In fact, the relationships I have with things seem to help me connect with my emotions toward humans. The different expressions of empathy in autism is a topic which deserves more discussion and research.