Emotions are difficult to discuss because of their abstract nature. The way Neurotypical (NT, from now on) people express their feelings to one another really have perplexed me for most of my life. There seems to be this need inside the individual to have others understand how he or she feels, but a reluctance to “show” that emotion. Yet somehow the outsider is supposed to read this conflict, decipher the emotion and react properly. I cannot understand this, but I can tell you that I cannot operate my emotions in that fashion.
I believe that as an Aspie, that I do feel emotions. I see myself as a burn victim of emotions where emotion is so hot and fiery to me that it burns me leaving pain long after the incident. As a result of that ongoing pain, my interior emotional states and my ability to read the emotional states of others are superseded by my pain. For me, emotional states and expression must have a place to go and therefore elevate to a more cerebral status. In other words, I express how I feel with the giving of gifts, analysis of words, presence needs from others and through my special interest.
If we take NT love, for example, between a parent and child, we see a desire in the NT parent to be loved by the NT child. The NT child shows this by seeking approval from the parent. You may argue that there is more to it than that, but really human love at its basic is a sort of approval seeking and validation system (storge). It is more automatic and linked with familiarity. Most people want to know they are loved and that what they are feeling is “normal” or valid. When our children become teenagers and stop seeking the approval of their parents, the love between that child and his or her parent must evolve to a more unselfish love, which usually presents a new bond as the teenager enters young adulthood. There is no longer a familiarity to rely upon and for the relationship to survive, the love must evolve into an uncircumstantial love (agape).
With an Aspie child, that system of approval seeking is not there, mostly because we don’t care what others think. Often times the NT parent misreads this lack of approval seeking in the Aspie child as an inability to return love leaving the NT parent to questions if the Aspie child feels love at all. In reality, the Aspie child feels love for you but already in that advanced way that adult children hopefully evolve love their parents (agape). This love is an unselfish love far removed from approval seeking and validation. Aspie love is not there to fill anyone else’s needs for love; Aspie love is there as a free gift for no particular reason at all.
If NT parents can embrace this love of their Aspie child and release their need for validation, then a wonderful joy will result. The NT parent will start to notice the unique ways the Aspie child relays love and both will begin to believe their love is always there. As an Aspie myself and a “burn victim” of emotion, I can tell you that the process of sorting how I feel and how to express my feelings are a long string of laborious, life-long tasks. There is no greater reward for that hard work than just knowing that my friends and family freely love me, no matter how poor I am at showing my emotion in conventional ways.