Community Magazine

Theory of Mind – Empathy

By Survivingana @survivingana

The image below comes from the Geneva Centre for Autism as part of their visual resource library.

Funny how things suddenly come together. My friend and I were talking about how our daughters just don’t connect with people – understanding, empathy, emotion, communication are lacking badly. Life is all about themselves, and how they perceive things and they both tend to have expectations that life should deliver the ultimate, unique, special experiences. We have even got down to the level of wondering if there is another disorder lurking within: narcissism, borderline personality disorder. You grasp at anything sometimes to try to understand the apparent coldness in our daughters.

We also wonder why our daughter’s cannot express themselves or deal with the underlying issues of the anorexia with their counselor. We put it down to being 18 and not able to connect deeply or articulate it at that age. It gets frustrating each time they come back from counseling that they STILL haven’t got any closer (even moving further away) from talking about what underlies the anorexia.

Sophie’s counselor emailed me last night about other stuff, and I talked about all of the above with her. She too has found exactly the same!! She cannot progress Sophie to talk about issues or find emotional connection because – in her words -  she as a quite a poor theory of mind. 

MEANING: her apparent lack of ability to identify what’s going on and connecting the (what seem to be obvious) dots. It means teaching her about feelings and emotions – her own and other peoples – and trying to find ways to get her to become aware of her own state of mind, reviewing different perspectives etc  but it can’t be to the ‘deepness’ level that you and I might consider essential to the resolution of emotional wellbeing/healing.

The image below was also sent to help me understand and it finally all makes sense. I can say yes to all of those items on the left – they are my daughter. And clearly she needs to be taught how to achieve what the rest of us can ‘just do’. By her counselor sharing this, and the fact that it helps her lower frustration levels of not breaking through to Sophie, I can therefore do the same. It means perhaps taking a teaching mode at home, not an expectation mode. It will remove the frustration Sophie and I have when trying to interact, or when I expect an answer from her about deeper stuff.

It also saddens me that there is so much psychology that my daughter struggles with, sometimes without even knowing what it is, but knowing she is ‘different‘ to others. Making her feel like she is still behind that glass wall and not connecting to anyone on the level she would like.

Asperger's and Theory of Mind

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