Reconsidering empathy deficits in children and adolescents with autism
SourceJournal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 32, 1, (2020), pp. 23-29
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI KLP
Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities
SubjectExperimental Psychopathology and Treatment
Humans need empathy to promote social interactions and to display prosocial behavior. Therefore, it is not surprising that low empathy skills are commonly seen as diagnostic features in several mental disorders. Empathy is an interesting topic in autism, since low empathy skills are responsible for the social difficulties that individuals with autism experience. The lack of agreement among researchers on empathy and autism, however, indicates that we need to redefine the characteristics of empathy in autism, which is the aim of our study. We hypothesize that children and adolescents with autism are impaired in three abilities required for empathy: (1) recognition of emotions, (2) sharing of emotional states, and (3) perspective taking. Since empathy ability measures are useful and are capable in distinguishing autism from other disorders, it is evident that these measures are used in clinical practice. Therefore, we recommend, in order to identify autism in clinical practice, at least the use of an instrument which is specialized in measuring one's empathy abilities, with regard to recognizing emotions, sharing emotional states and perspective taking.
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