Real empathy… where did it come from???

So today, I was floored.

A close family member’s leopard gecko died. The children love it – they go straight to the room where the gecko lives every visit and are very excited to handle her. So I knew they’d probably feel sad about it.

Logan is someone who feels his own sadness, usually more centred around what he won’t get to have/do any longer, rather than the actual grieving of it (I’m sure he feels loss but doesn’t understand it as sadness).

However, when I told him today, he broke his heart and said how sad it felt, then just went silent. A look of realisation came over his face, followed by a deeper wave of sadness. Then words came out of his mouth that I was not expecting. “I can’t imagine how Peter must be feeling, he must be very very upset” or words to that affect.

I am so glad I was sat down. I was definitely overcome. The boy who cannot regulate, doesn’t understand physical feelings, let alone emotional ones, and even when it’s pointed out will often chose the self-focused thought over empathy… did he just empathise with someone in the middle of expressing his own sadness? Did he feel and understand sadness enough to realise someone else may be feeling worse than him? I think he did.

So utterly motivated. He still can’t regulate, he still has moments where he’s wetting himself, making himself sweat unecessarily, still not letting himself express illness, respond to thirst. BUT – He just showed real empathy. This is massive. There is hope that we can help him understand emotion, consequences and selflessness. We have seen the first signs. It may not be a regular occurance for a while, but the door is open; we previously didn’t know if the door had been locked, and the key destroyed.

This is massive.

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