Many Struggles; Less Sympathy — Why The Kindness Seems Harder to Come By


I take notes on all my major presentations. One day I found among them a small note of encouragement from my sister, who’s had the unfortunate privilege of knowing me her entire life and can spot when I’m having a day more down than up.

This was a rare thing for me to receive.

You can’t go a day on Facebook, Twitter, Insta, TikTok, or anything without seeing someone’s post overflowing with comments, likes, shares, virality about how they were having some sort of rough situation or day, only to be showered or otherwise picked up by an act of kindness, whether great or small.

It’s nice, and I can’t exactly not like that kind of response.

But it’s a rare thing for us.

When your struggles are compounded by autism, it is much harder for regular folks to relate.

If you’re working with or otherwise around “happy, normal people,” you can mostly relate to happiness and normalcy.

So when those folks hit a rut, have a bad day, or otherwise run into a rough patch, there’s almost no effort that would ever go into trying to understand. “Oh, you’re normal, but now you’re sad and I understand why” — that’s instant, and you can pivot your energy to making that person feel better.

For us?

“Oh, she’s … uh … different.” — and people already have to contend with understanding first. Sure, there are those who can immediately understand “sad” and “hurt,” but autism often adds a hurdle that many people won’t jump over.

And that’s a hurdle many can’t clear.

And yes, folks, we know it.

Any barrier to understanding us as people drastically diminishes one’s outputs of sympathy.

But it’s not everyone. Those on the spectrum, we get it. Many who bypass their hurdles of understanding and just work right to the sadness, the hurt — they get it too.

It takes uncommon people to help sympathize with other uncommon people, even about uncommon things.

For those of you who do try, thank you.

Even if you don’t “get us,” you got us when we need help.



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