BUSTING THE EMPATHY MYTH.
The other day, a friend of my parents came down for coffee. She has recently lost her husband, a man I remember with fondness, in that his son, who was a few years older than I was kind to me and he (the man who died) was a bit of an eccentric collector. He was also an activist, and he and I sometimes found ourselves on opposing sides of the political fence, but no matter. He was also supportive of me learning some Finnish.
This friend talked about her battle (she deals with anxiety and depression) and she described being three steps forward and two steps back, yet the cause of her entering this was somebody calling her a c-word (the one that rhymes with punt). I tried, in my own way, to explain to her that it's like driving a manual car and starting off in second and slamming it across into fifth. My brother has a manual car and he starts off in second and goes straight into fourth and then fifth. My father asked him about this and his reply was, "They're spare gears." My father could sense that a tirade would ensue from this woman, so he asked me to go to the shops, which I did.
One of the myths I have frequently heard is that autistic people lack empathy, and that is simply not true. I have a friend who loves chickens and uses them in a therapeutic way. I cried for a penguin with a sore foot at two and cried for Ping the Duck on the Yangtse River when he was caned.
Today, I was reading a story about four people who entered a shopping centre dressed in SS black uniforms and said that it was offensive. And to anybody whose forebears survived the Holocaust, it would be, too. I even asked my Jewish friend before I drove my father's Falcon and she said, "Don't worry about it. I know you're not racist."
I did, however, find it amusing that voters who support a party that is on the far-right fringes report being the loneliest people in the country. My thought was, "Well, WHO in their right mind would want to be a dinner guest for someone who believes that climate change is a UN inspired hoax, that in a country where around 4% of the population is Asian (it may now be about 6%) is in danger of being "swamped," and where 2% of the population is Muslim believes it is in danger of being "swamped," as well as that autistic kids should be placed in special classrooms and proposed preposterous reasons as to why we should reject internationalism, not to mention endorsement of inhumanity?"
I used to be friendly with a young woman at Woolworths until she came out as a One Nation supporter (no matter how benign, anybody in their right mind who would agree with her nonsense is not someone I want to mix with). My thought was, how does she think I, as a marginalised person, who heard Hanson's speech regarding autistic kids, felt about it? Yes, I struggled at school, but in subjects like Japanese, I was the one who wanted to get ahead! Special help in my struggle areas, yes, and protection from bullies, but no, I had enough memories of kids who were marginalised, like my friend who was told to do the five easiest subjects and forget about university, when intellectually, he was a bright kid! The same guidance officer who told me to do a basic computing subject told this kid to do that and I ignored the guidance officer and did Japanese and Modern History and scored highly! If you read what this guy wrote, and then heard him talk, you would be curious as to who wrote the story. "It gives me no pleasure whatsoever to say I told you so," when he was laughing about it to your face! He didn't, when I was finishing Year Twelve, say, "Gee, you did better than I thought you would! I'm sorry, I was wrong. And I'm pleased you ignored my advice."
Just like homophobia offends me and racism offends me, on the one hand, if one considers Redmond Mountford*, if he wasn't part-Chinese and someone heard him paying out on Asians, how would they feel if THEIR grandfather or grandmother or even great-grandfather/grandmother was Chinese and they were proud to have Chinese roots? How would someone who was LGBTIQA feel if sitting around the dinner table, they heard parental condemnation of their sexual orientation? That is typically why you find older Australians who are LGBTIQA who have been in heterosexual relationships have grandchildren. They didn't "turn gay," they suppressed their homosexuality until they could no longer do so. So, could you imagine how I felt when my mother, at the dinner table, said that it would be wonderful if there was a cure for autism? I was equally disgusted that my sister-in-law didn't say, "Err, hang on. Have you asked Peter about this? Does he want to be cured?" Eight months later, I had an explosive meltdown with her, because my brother and sister-in-law came over and she was holding my nephew and my mother wedged herself in the doorway and she abused me and I could hold back no longer. My sister-in-law found it confronting and rang up to speak to me almost implying she was frightened to leave my nephew with my parents in case I hurt him. That was upsetting and I said to my sister-in-law that I was sorry she felt that way but the cause was complicated. I'm not a violent person, but I was upset that my mother said what she said and was silenced when I tried to respond, so I could not let it go.
One reason why I don't like dealing with people is that I can't do double-speak. If someone says to me, "What do you think of Hanson/Dutton, or however?" I can't say, "Oh, well, what to you think?" I would say, "Can't stand them!" If I know someone's a Hanson/Dutton supporter, I avoid them, unless they're really useful to me, and I then make that a no-go zone. For example, if I had a really good mechanic who was a Hanson supporter I may stick with them, but I would say, "Don't discuss politics. Service the car, please." If, however, I encounter a mechanic who refuses to use KYB Shock Absorbers, I won't let them near my car, unless they are very honest and say, "I don't usually use them, but I'll use them for you," and fit them properly (if I encounter someone who I suspect may order them but fit them improperly or drop them to prove a point, I'll avoid them).
Autistic people have empathy and plenty of it. Take Greta Thunberg, for instance. She's passionate about climate change and doesn't take any nonsense from coal executives. Just like I, when I lived in one place and had a mechanic who bagged KYBs, I thought, "No, this is crap, and you're not touching my car." I become angry about injustice, and that would not be possible if I was incapable of empathy. I say that neuro-typical folk lack empathy, and lack empathy for autistics.