I think it’s funny how autistic people are continually deemed un-empathetic. When in fact, most of that stems from hyper-empathy. I remember when I was young, I’d sleep downstairs at night with the TV on (a favorite of mine — which I can now interpret as ‘stimming’).

I’d want to bring all of my stuffed animals downstairs for comfort, and because they were my friends. But this quickly became an all-or-nothing type of situation. Because if I only took two or three, then the other one’s feelings would hurt. I remember thinking how utterly lonely they must be, how rejected they must feel. I’d picture them sitting in my dark, cold room upstairs — unable to focus on the TV show in front of my eyes … until I’d BURST! I’d run upstairs and snag them all (I didn’t do this at first because they were arranged in a nice, specific order). Or head back upstairs, oscillating between defeat and relief (a dynamic duo I will come to know very well over the years).

So: I’d say goodnight to my stuffed animals, my heart wrenching because I could not care for them all, I could not sleep with them all, I could not love them all, I could not know them all.

I think about how that is far too much hurt and responsibility for a young child to bear.


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