One of the common misconceptions of being autistic is the fact that we don’t show empathy or know how to be kind to others. Oftentimes this is brought to light in the first time that you get to know us, because if you knew who I am, I am quite the empath and can show empathy.
It still takes a long time for me to warm up to someone and have an empathetic feel for them. It takes an extremely long time for us to get to the point of embracing someone, and that circle has a small few in it. Sometimes it is doing subtle things that are not the traditional methods of thinking such as buying someone something or helping them. We often know how it is to be left alone and see our way as helping someone as a way of having a connection with that person.
It can also go the way of an empath to the point where you extend yourself time and time again to others to the point you become burnt out. That was the point with a friendship that became toxic and nearly over two years after seeing their lack of change and lack of potential of mutuality, I somewhat uniquely made the decision to set up a boundary around my private life with them. I had to realize on my own that it was more detrimental to my mental health having them in my private life than setting a boundary around them. A year later, temptation has set in even though it took me that long to finally be where I need to be mentally, I know I did the right thing.
Sometimes wanting nothing but someone who takes an interest in us is all that we as neurodivergent people desire. However, you have to know what you as an autistic person can withstand within your sensory and mental capabilities so you do not react negatively to too much stimuli. Another essential facet is when someone is reciprocal in a friendship or relationship and understands your needs to have space and breaks to do the things as autistics people need and like to do. Not having these and constantly given the opportunity to be pressured to be empathic to someone’s needs can set you up for poor mental health. I have been in a host of needy relationships and friendships and as a result it set me back immensely.
Being autistic, it can be hard to realize when we give in too much because we are often told that we don’t care or know how to be a friend to someone. However, all aspects besides being an empath must be considered when taking care of ourselves. We know ourselves best and we do not want to have a meltdown or any similar negative reaction that could be consequential or cause a disruption of something that was meant to be a good thing because we will deeply regret not being able to take care of our actions.
It can seem oftentimes that autistics do not want to show attention to something but many when approached with something with little notice can cause us to freeze or shut down because it takes us time to process things so we understand them and can make a sound decision that is mutual for both parties and provide a more desirable outcome.
So you can see why I have to defend the simple fact that autistics can be empaths and show empathy, but it is done in different ways than what society expects us to. When I am empathetic to those in the ways I feel comfortable, it is much appreciated for what it is and we are shown that love. As an autistic individual it is best to do what is for you so you can take care of you.