Life has not always been easy but I have landed in a good place. While autism presented many challenges for me it was the mental illness that distorted my way of thinking and understanding the world around me and my life. It also prevented me from understanding how autism truly effected me which led me to sometimes have some not so great feelings about ASD.

Those feelings were completely distorted thoughts that seemed to get lost in the world of mental illnesses like Bi-Polar and Schizophrenia which I have encountered throughout my life time. With so many negatives going on in my life another mental illness that took over my life which is sometimes overlooked and probably not even really called a mental illness was catastrophic negative thinking.

I have always been an all or nothing thinker. I am either fully one way or fully the other. This includes happiness and sadness. In the past I have either been super happy or completely devastated and depressed. There is never a happy medium.

This entire concept has got me to thinking how can we teach someone with autism to regulate their emotions? But it also goes a bit deeper. How do we teach someone with autism to read and interpret other people’s emotions and regulate how our emotions should respond to their emotions?

There are numerous challenges involved with having autism. Not only must we generalize and regulate our own emotions but it takes a lot of emotions on our part to read and generalize or apply reading other peoples emotions and interpreting or deciding how we should respond to their emotions.

Now sometimes I like to use what I call matching theory. I am trying to develop a bigger social and emotional repertoire in the way I respond to people.

In the past no matter what the emotions was I had learned to program default responses for all emotions. I might have responded to a sad person by sending them flowers and my response regardless of the situation or how sad they were was to send flowers. This obviously wasn’t the most personable response I could give someone. This meant I was sending flowers no matter if someone lost a family member or if they were just having a rough day and things weren’t going their way that day. I took all of these emotions other people feel and responded to them all the same way and that doesn’t make for the best friend when you do that.

There is also social context to social skills and I am also learning that there is emotional context to emotions. Eventually I want to learn how to match the emotional response I give to the emotional context of a friend’s emotions.

I know this won’t always be easy but I can do it and want to do it because it will make me a better friend. What are your thoughts on the context of emotions and how to form emotional responses that match the emotional context of your friend’s emotions?

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