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The world of feelings in children with autism

It still surprises me when I am carrying out the diagnostic process for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, when the family tells me that it can’t be, because they are very loving. But who said that people with ASD can’t be affectionate?

It is time to break that false myth that they are incapable of feeling or expressing affection, because people with ASD are capable of loving others. They have the capacity to feel affection and, like any human being, considered social by nature, they require the affection of others. Possibly the difference is that their way of loving, their way of expressing or demanding affection is different; They have a special way of doing it that is not the way we would expect it to be.

It is false that people with ASD do not have feelings , although they may have problems expressing their feelings , in the same way that they have difficulties relating to others.

We already know that they have a different way of thinking, so their mind works differently and, together with their difficulty in communicating and their sensory alterations, it makes it a little more difficult for them to communicate and express their thoughts and feelings, leading us to the error of thinking. that they don’t have them.
People with ASD, like anyone, have feelings, although the way they process them is different. These can be very intense and difficult to identify, but there are parents, family members, friends, educators, therapists, etc. to teach them to channel emotions, express them and share them.

All this has led to giving people with autism a lack of empathy, but is there really a lack of empathy?

Sometimes we have the perception that people with ASD have difficulties putting themselves in someone else’s shoes, showing solidarity and having empathy with others. But it is not like that because:

  • Their sincerity:  they always put the truth first, but in our world it may be something crazy, since we are very careful about what we say so as not to offend anyone. People with ASD simply say things as they are (hoping that others also speak clearly), and they do not understand why the rest of us think about it in order to be socially correct.
  • Their need for affection:  it may be different from ours. That is, people need physical contact to show “affection”, but they may not show that need (there are some people who sometimes reject physical contact).

People with ASD show in many ways that other people care. The problem is that perhaps not in the way we expect or want them to do it. So we are the ones who are not able to put ourselves in their shoes, understand how they feel and understand their way of showing their affection. Because it is really not them who must change, but this world in which there is no room for difference.

Some tips to promote the affectivity of children with ASD:

  • You have to be patient and try to understand the characteristics of the disorder in order to understand them. It is important to learn and understand how your child sees the world.
  • Think that they love you, but don’t expect them to let you know in the way we are used to.
  • They need to know you are around; They need someone to see them and connect with them.
  • It is important to pay attention to their displays of affection, this will help you learn to recognize their way of communicating their emotions.
  • We must express our affection to them by adapting to their way of showing it, avoiding making them nervous with traditional demonstrations.
  • Feeling loved will bring them the same benefits as other children, giving them security and confidence. Of course, we will have to modify our usual way of showing affection.


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