Autism and Empathy

A common myth is that autistic people lack empathy.

I do not know where the fuck the myth comes from but I am not aware of a single peer reviewed academic study that validates the myth.

Peer review is critical to the scientific process and the scientific process is critical to understanding things like autism.

There are some bizarre ways this myth is expressed. In Oregon in the Umpqua Community College Shooting the shooter was autistic. Many people ranted about autistics being sociopaths without emotions, few saw the bigger problem that we are a country without adequate mental health help for those with mental issues yet we make firearms readily available.

Most mass shootings are not done by people with autism, almost all mass shootings are however done by people with some kind of mental illness. Clearly autistic people in society are not the issue that needs to be addressed. Better mental health and better control of firearms designed to kill lots of people in a short period of time are the two problems that need to be addressed.

My personal experience is that autism results in more empathy than neurotypical people tend to have. We do however express it differently, after all our brains work differently, and maybe that is where the confusion comes from.

In a discussion on the government role of helping the poor, I was of course arguing that we NEED to help the poor, that poverty is a cycle, that the wealthy may have worked hard for what they have but most of that time that is only because they had opportunities to work hard that produced profit where someone born into poverty only had the opportunity to work hard to barely survive.

In that discussion I was accused of lacking empathy.

I still am trying to figure what the fuck he meant by that. I suppose the problem was empathizing with the poor, not with this person’s desire to pay less taxes so that people who have nothing can eat.

I have heard the autistic empathy tends to be more systematic than on the personal level and there may be some truth to that, I can understand exactly why it would be.

Autistic people often have problems with social interactions. It is hard for us to ask for help from people we know, let alone people we do not know, asking for help involves very personal social interactions.

Also, a lot of the way I see neurotypical people express empathy does absolutely nothing to solve the problem. Giving a hug to someone who just lost their job does not put food on the table or help them buy new socks and underwear when what they have runs out.

Here’s how I express empathy.

PCs for Single Mothers

Back when I had a good job that payed lots of money, I would build computers for single mothers. My empathy was actually for their children, I knew computers were a key component to quality education, and while others in the group I was with often just refurbished old computers – I did not think it was fair that these kids should be using outdated junk just because they are in poverty.

I would build new computers, using more expensive hard drives that had a low failure rate and quality power supplies that had a low failure rate (hard drives and power supplies are most common components to fail).

Even though the motherboard often had built-in video that was good enough for me, I would put in a quality video card so the kids could play some of the more graphic intensive games.

I did not want my gift to them to be a constant reminder that they were in a social class that was too poor to have nice things.

Most people in the group thought I was nuts, that I should just be rebuilding old computers, as it would be much cheaper. Old computers are often good for many things, but they are old.

Audio Downloads

As many reading this site know, I run the kinky audio site Naughty.Audio.

Part of my motivation for that site, some Phone Sex Operators do not work for the kind of companies that offer a vast Internet network that helps market them.

I feel for the independents that do not have a company behind them that does the a lot of the marketing for them. I want to provide a place that brings callers and operators together without the operator being required to be part of a specific company, to give the independents a chance at some of the same kind of marketing help that operators who work for companies get.

In designing that site, I wanted to make sure it was as accessible as possible to people with disabilities. People with disabilities still often have sexual cravings, but it is harder for them not only because of their disability, but because a night on the town in expensive and people with disabilities often are poor, over 70% live in poverty. Phones Sex allows them to express themselves sexually at a lower budget. As such, the websites related to Phone Sex should be coded to work with assistive technology and it literally boggles my mind that the vast majority of adult web sites ignore accessibility in their web design.

With the audios, people with hearing impairment can still do Phone Sex via sexy texting, even if they are completely deaf. So the audios should have captions so that those users can sample the creativity of the erotic entertainer just like hearing people can.

Audio Downloads

It goes much further than that, though. The site offers audio downloads. For most people, serving the downloaded audio as a .mp3 or .m4a would be best because that is what is plays in iTunes.

But those file formats do not allow embedding of captions that allow a deaf person to read what is being said. Okay technically the MPEG-4 containers used by .m4a audios does, but no one who is deaf that I know knew of any audio players that it actually worked well with. They all just use VLC Media Player where captions are best when in a SRT format in a Matroska container.

So to serve their needs, I need to serve the audios in a Matroska container with the audio captions embedded, even though iTunes does not support Matroska meaning people who do not need the captions either have to use a different player than iTunes or transcode it.

Why not have a separate download for hearing impaired?

Because I do not believe it is ever fair for someone with a disability to be required to disclose that disability to a web server, again my sense of empathy. Many of them may not mind, but why should it be forced upon them?

It is better to have an inclusive audio download everyone can use, and those who want to play them in iTunes should bug Apple, there’s no good reason why Apple can’t support Matroska, they choose not to. Apple wants to control the market.

But neurotypical people don’t complain to Apple, they complain to me. I should conform to Apple’s way, serving files iTunes will play, forcing deaf and hearing impaired users to either not use my service or identify themselves as probably hearing impaired to my server so they can download a different version of the audio.

It isn’t autistic people that lack empathy, often it is the people cursed with neurotypical disorder. Hopefully someday there will be a cure for neurotypical disorder, maybe electro-shock treatment or keeping them institutionalized until they learn.

 

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