Tag Archive | empathy

He was nine when he wrote it – This is how autism sometimes speaks.


Compassion comes in many forms, I think on this day, my son’s capacity for compassion and empathy and understanding of a world we so often take for granted shone bright in its innocence and purity . . .

imageThere are those who say autistic people do not have the capability to feel empathy or compassion or relate to the emotional world around them. I know this to be untrue, they may express these feelings differently than others, but they are more than capable of feeling them.

When my children were young we spent many afternoons in the park. Sometimes, when I drive past it, I can almost see them playing there, I hear their innocent laughter between the beats of my heart. One of these outings stands out in my memory, it was a beautiful and brisk autumn day, the perfect kind of day for something special.

Two of my four children are autistic, one is quite social and loves to run and play, the other is very much the opposite. He prefers to be still, watching, listening, taking in everything around him. While his brothers and sister quickly ran out into the open field to play, he spent the afternoon with his arms wrapped around a tree, he wrote this poem when he got home, he was nine years old.


The wind chills me
as I walk the path
through the park

I hear a small voice
that is heard with my heart
It says “come to me”

I search for the source
of the mystical voice
there is only a single tree
ancient and weathered
roots exposed to the sun and the rain

The voice draws me nearer
and I see tiny little ants
crawling about
in search of food

I knew it was not them
that called out to me

I look to the top of the tree
the bare branches sadden me
I touch the tree
and feel enormous pain

Somehow the tree had spoken to me
maybe it is my gift

I sit next to the giant trunk
and speak to it for a while
it forgets its pain

I wrap my arms around it
as far as I can reach
I press my forehead
against the bumpy surface
and I think it’s thoughts
and I feel all that it feels
and it is thankful

Wilson Cook

1000 Voices Speak for Compassion

He was dying . . .


I am often asked if it’s true autistics are incapable of empathy, affection, love, compassion, etc.. I try not to let it get to me, knowing there are so many people out there who believe the myths and the misinformation regarding autism. I try to fight these notions by encouraging and educating those I can.

One of the most powerful tools I have at my disposal is experience.

This morning I spoke to my son, he was feeling sad, he and his grandma had come across a dying bird in the back yard. He posted this status update to his Facebook profile this evening ~

He was dying, my Grandma found him in the backyard, we picked him up and held him as he passed, I stroked his head making sure his final moments were of love and not of fear. We put him in a box with some tissues and some socks so he could spend his final moments in comfort, it was sad we couldn’t save him and we didn’t have him for more than a few minutes but I feel better for having been there for him. I made a difference in its life, albeit in the end of it.

Yes. Autistic people can feel empathy, deeply. They may not always be capable of expressing their feelings, every individual with autism is unique, they have strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else. There are many people not faced with the challenges my son faces who are incapable of the level of empathy my son felt today, holding that little bird. He is a good, good man.

Crystal R. Cook