“Take-Home Toolkit” for Positive Relationships for those with Autism, Continued
2. Enhance empathy: Tune into empathy, not sympathy. Try to put yourself in their shoes and imagine what they may be thinking or feeling, especially since they have difficulties understanding, expressing and showing emotions which can be confusing.
Try to get a clear understanding of what visual and motor skills our kids have to be able to read. Pat, my co-author of this chapter is going to hand out overlays so you can feel the difference a color could make for a child on a piece of paper. Most people with autism are extremely sensitive – actually hypersensitive. Color is no exception. By printing papers on toned paper for a school project or whatever can make a huge difference! And different colors can affect different people differently.
Enhancing Empathy can also mean engaging empathy by doing activities together. You can get a real feel for what they like or don’t like and participate in the activities you find most comforting to them. Strangely enough, they may be the most comforting to you as well!
It’s not always important to talk, talk talk all the time and try to get inside their head. Sometimes something as simple as sitting down with some nice colored pencils and markers and scribbling with them at a table in silence can foster a world of closeness. Communication is more than just words (especially for some people with autism).
Another empathetic activity might be going to an empty community hall or large room where you can play music and swirl around together! Be careful of the music. Different types of music affects people differently – sometimes even Classical music can affect someone with autism adversely (I know that may be hard to understand).
Just remember, as much as it may seem to you sometimes that some people with autism don’t always express their feelings, desires, likes and dislikes, it doesn’t mean they don’t have them – they just don’t know how to express them! And above all, look for the gifts, praise and nurture them within your loved ones.
…to be Continued…