…flawed terminology, measurement and theory have all contributed to the mischaracterisation of autistic people as lacking empathy, to severely negative effect.
The myth of an empathy deficit in autism is now so well ingrained, that for an autistic volunteer to report they do not lack empathy is either to question the views of the large majority of medical and scientific professionals, or even to deny their diagnosis. As such, they may report empathy deficits even when they frequently experience empathic feelings.
Autistic people have described that they experience ‘…hyperarousal of the empathic system…’ (Elcheson et al., 2018, p. 189) or an ‘…intense, uncontrollable empathy…’ (Williams, 1998, p. 59).
Recent research has further indicated that autistic people may be more prone to object personification (White & Remington, 2019), suggesting that the autistic manifestation of empathy could not only be more intense but also more all-encompassing that the neurotypical model.