So, you want to talk empathy?
By JenTroester on March 27, 2011
Friday, after we got home from swimming lessons, I was standing outside talking to Kai about where to build a treehouse for the kids. Katie and Ben were attempting to play fetch with our dog, Charlie (even though he's not so good at the retrieving part). All of a sudden I felt something crack against my skull, and felt intense pain. I am going to say childbirth might have been less painful. I screamed, dropped to the ground, and cried. Hard. (I am hoping the neighbors missed this whole scene).
I ended up with this:
And, yeah, Katie didn't really care. I *think* she was afraid she was going to get in trouble, but after she figured out that wasn't going to happen, she went about her business. She didn't come and ask me how I felt. She didn't come and apologize for hitting me. When I asked her about it later, whether she was worried she was going to get in trouble or felt bad she hurt me, she answered she was worried about getting in trouble. I pressed her and asked if she felt bad at all for hitting me, and she looked at me weird and said, "kinda?". Like she knew I was looking for an answer different to what she felt, so she said what she thought I wanted to hear.
NOW, maybe this is how all kids would react. I don't know. Maybe a typical kid would hit their mother in the head with a stick and only care about getting in trouble. Maybe a typical kid would show absolutely no concern for the person in pain, and only worry about themselves. I don't know. I do know Ben isn't like that. He gets upset when I get upset. He feels bad if he accidentally hurts me (or someone else), and knows how to apologize (without being told to). I know he has empathy.
Maybe a typical kid would say, matter-of-factly, "you shouldn't have been standing in the way".
What do you think?
As an aside, Katie, though not so empathic towards people, does seem to feel great empathy for animals. I have heard from other parents their autistic children are the same way. I have no insight as to why.
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