On The Ontological Status Of Autism And Double Empathy


The double empathy/cross-neurological hypotheses of Milton and Beardon can be summarised as follows:
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(1) non-autistic people appear to have as much difficulty in understanding autistic minds as vice versa;
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(2) autistic people often develop a greater understanding of society than non-autistic people develop of autism; and
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(3) autistic people have a similar ability to empathise with other autistic people as non-autistic people have with their peers.
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Milton does not suggest that non-autistic people are less capable of developing an understanding of autism than vice versa; as he points out, it is simply that autistic people have no choice but to try to develop an understanding of society if they are to ‘survive and potentially thrive’ whereas no such imperative applies in the opposite direction (Milton 2012).
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  • Yes, I've seen that before and can quite well identify with it. Like with the Christmas party example. When asked I told someone I'm not coming because I don't really like that sort of thing and that I've eventually figured out now that other people actually genuinely enjoy being there, talking for hours about nothing, drinking too much, wearing clothes that can't possibly be comfortable in a physical sense, dancing potentially, all that stuff. Apparently it's strange that it took me until now to figure out, but then many people find it just as unbelievable that I do not enjoy these things. Somehow their lack of understanding is normal though, because I'm weird, whereas mine is weird, because they are normal... 

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