Autism and the Empathy Altruism Hypothesis

I’m currently studying for my social psychology exam. And research has shown that emotional distress in others (perceived through empathy) can either lead to empathic responses or personal distress. (see for example Coke, Batson & McDavis, 1978)

Empathic behavior is defined by a reaction to the other person’s needs while personal distress is characterized by withdrawal.

Further findings show that personal distress is always caused when a person perceives another person’s distress so intense that it’s overwhelming for them and they need to cope with their own emotions first. (see for example Eisenberg et al, 2006)

Social psychology has literally already found the explanation to the lack in autistic people’s empathic responses. And yet, here we are. Still fighting against the prejudice that autistic people are heartless.

It’s funny, how you can go whole years without thinking of someone, and then they just crop up in your mind, demanding all of your thought processes.
Admittedly, she hadn’t gone a day without thinking about it, about the breakup before she left to New York. There was no time to go home and think about calling him up, even to check in. It was just strange.

When she started her first show, she, admittedly, found herself at a few of his headlining shows,  standing in the back, coat folded over her arms, watching him perform.  She always slipped out right before the end, before he could actually have a chance to get a good look at her and realize that yes, she had been looking for him too. Okay, so he’d shown up at a few of her shows and watched her in her element.  It wasn’t hard to see that she cared about it more than anything else, and he was convinced that she would take this over marriage any day.

It’s an accident.  Slipping out of coffee shop and out into the rain, he sidles up to a girl looking for a taxi. He waits next to her, in silence, not wanting to say anything to the girl without a coat.  He glances once when the taxi pulls up, half wishing to take the other empty seat just to dry off, but looks away. On second glance, though, he catches a look at her face and sees the wild, dark hair he used to run his hands through, the smattering of freckles on her nose. When she shuts the door, she catches his glance, and her brows furrow for that second between noticing and realization, then she suddenly frowns in that moment between realization and regret that she hadn’t looked twice. 


It’s suffice to say that he has to see her again, just to talk to her. Not reconcile things, she’s too far into her career for him to try, he thinks.  For once, he goes to a show, and he stage doors, standing outside with the throng of people, ribs awkwardly pressing into the cold metal of the fenced in area, like the actors were animals in a petting zoo. He thinks that maybe she doesn’t stage door, maybe she’s a diva or just tired.
But no, she’s the last one to come out, to the joy of several of the people around him. He holds out his playbill patiently for her to autograph, watches her smile for photographs with people. Had people actually told her that she couldn’t make it? Where the hell were they now?
She makes a round, and, not looking up at his face, presses her Sharpie to his playbill. “Who should I write this out to?” she asks, brushing a hairsprayed curl out of her face.  
“Macon,” he smiles, watching the realization creep into her features. “It’s nice to meet you.”
She smirks and signs her name on his playbill before glancing up at him. “Of course it is. Who wouldn’t want to meet me?" 

Back Down South ; Into the Night; PG-13 (?)

As it wound down to the wee hours of the morning, as did the campfire. She’d spent most of the time alternating between talking to the others and dancing to the tune he’d strummed out on his guitar.  Whatever alcohol she’d consumed had worn off by the time she settled herself on the ground next to him.  Digging her chin into the curve between his shoulder and neck, she brushed her nose against his stubbled jaw. “Hi,” he said quietly, a smile pulling at his mouth.
“Hi,” she grinned, slipping her hand to his lower back and giving him a comforting rub, her fingers unnaturally hot through the fabric of his shirt. “Let’s go somewhere.”
Raising an eyebrow, he peered at her sideways. “Somewhere? Where’s somewhere?” She blinked at him slowly, withdrawing to bundle up blankets onto her lap and avoid his glance. Catching the smile threatening to surface on her face, he replied almost decisively, “Somewhere.”
“Somewhere,” she smiled, getting to her feet. Tucking the folded blankets under her arm, she extended a hand to him. Unable to avoid the engaging grin on her face, he took it and pulled himself to his feet as well. 
They tread across her backyard to the fence, where she opened a gate that he, to be honest, hadn’t noticed (they were mostly homebodies).  She shut it behind him and took his hand, leading him on a trail towards… he didn’t know where, but she seemed to know where she was going.  It didn’t take long, just long enough to get out of the earshot of the others, to get to a clearing that seemed as if it was deliberately made.  Letting go of his hand and unfurling one of the blankets, she handed one to him and laid hers flat on the ground Shedding his sweatshirt, she sat on the blanket, shooting him a smile and patting the vast space left of the blanket.

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