One thing I learned quite early on was about eye contact. Now I never used to do eye contact - Aspies don’t - because I never saw a need for it. When I read that most people do have a need for eye contact I trained myself to do it. Now I don’t necessarily get it right. I might give too much or too little, but I found I didn’t have any difficulty giving eye contact, whereas a lot of aspies find a lot of difficulty. Another thing was we read books about body language.
Richard: But I had got into some uncomfortable situations by giving entirely the wrong signals with body language and I studied the books. So I think now I don’t give entirely the wrong signals and I can read somebody else’s body language if I remember. I would have to remember and say, “Ah yes. I think that means such and such.” Rather than just forming an automatic impression the way that most people would. I don’t remember how long that took, that would have been the first year or two probably.
There was – things went a bit quiet again and more recently I felt that there was actually more I could do to develop myself. One of the…I started to look into this whole area of emotional contact again. The problem with emotional communication is in both directions or all directions. I can’t read my wife’s emotions, except on a very broad brush, happy, angry. I would have difficulty putting in the finesse of ways. And the same thing applies to my own. I don’t communicate own emotions usually because my emotions don’t communicate themselves to my mind. I know I have got emotions but I don’t explain them. And linked with that is the understanding that aspies don’t have empathy.
There has been quite a lot of debate on that, quite a lot on what is empathy anyway? That is still something of an open question. A definition has not really been agreed. But I came to the conclusion that it was not right for a husband and father not to have any empathy and that I would therefore work on learning to have empathy. If I can learn to read body language and to give body language, I mean I have to make an effort to do it, I decided that I could learn awareness of … awareness of emotions is one thing. I think empathy is another. Empathy, I understand, is to have feeling with somebody in their situation and that I believe is actually coming now. It looks like it is a much more difficult job but I certainly believe it is possible and I am developing that way which does lead to the conclusion that, or the assumption perhaps, some of the main factors of Aspergers can actually be overcome.