Empathy and Autism

One of the main characteristics of autism is impairment in social functioning and communication. There is a persistent stereotype that people with autism lack empathy and cannot understand emotion, while a fine line exists between autism and feeling emotions but being able to identify them. Dante is a great example of a young man on the spectrum who can read emotions and feel empathy regardless of the time or place.  

Past research has suggested that people living on the autism spectrum are lacking in empathy —  but is this still a common-held view? Empathy is simply defined as the ability to identify and understand another person’s situation and feelings; it is commonly spoken of as “walking in someone else’s shoes”. It allows us to tune into how someone else is feeling. It challenges us to understand the intentions of others, predict their behavior, and experience an emotion triggered by body sensations. In short, empathy allows us to interact effectively in the social world.

Meet Dante, who just so happens to be a foremost example of a young man on the spectrum who can read emotions, feel empathy, and put those feelings expeditiously into high gear. There have been countless times when he acknowledged strangers with a wave, and when he sees an infant, a young child, someone with a brace, in a wheelchair, or on crutches, he is immediately drawn to them with genuine concern for their disability or injury. He is a role model worthy of imitation who represents an inspirational ideal of good behavior regardless of age.  

The Song Inside

In a world of noise, I seek the sound of silence,
A moment of peace, a place of solace.
But amidst the chaos, I find my symphony,
For within me, there’s a song, a melody.

A symphony of thoughts, colors, and dreams,
Bursting through my seams, it gleams.
Though my words may falter, my song remains,
A testament to the strength autism sustains.

Through the highs and lows, I find my way,
Navigating a world that may lead me astray.
But with every note, every beat of my heart,
I rise above, embracing my unique art.

So, listen closely, for my song is true,
A reflection of the struggles I’ve been through.
Autism may paint my world in vibrant hues,
But my voice, my song, will never be lost.

In the verses of my soul, I find my guide,
A beacon of hope, a resounding tide.
For within my song, I am free to be,
Autism and all, embracing my destiny.

Poem by Gavin Cosgrove

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  • Alyssa McCombie

    I really loved reading this about Dante! he's such a big role model to me and I've always loved seeing him in school or being around him in general! he's so smart and compassionate towards his family and friends and just people in general. That kids going places and I'm very proud of him and I'll always be proud of him. Proud to be your sister Dante, Love Lyss<3

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