An Explanation and a Little Empathy Story…

It’s been a little over 30 days since I posted here.  As some of you may realize, I do have a law practice, though mostly, it is my partner/husband who runs it.  Long ago, when I was about 6 months into writing here, I took a break to try one of the largest cases of my career and it was in trial for the entire summer.  I lost that case and my belief in the system of justice, never mind, my abilities as an advocate…  That was a hard loss.

Now, I am again preparing for a trial that is to start in early June.  I didn’t want to say anything here because (1) I am superstitious and (2) I don’t want to again put myself in a position to tell you about another loss.  But here I am.  I thought I owed you an explanation for my silence.  

In the midst of all the preparation, I’ve had a sick kid (sinus infection then double-whammied with hand-foot-mouth disease the same week) and a mom who’s managed two back-to-back ER visits over the weekend. Let me just say that the sandwich generation is hard.  

I wish I could get around to read all your blog posts and stay in touch on Facebook and prepare for trial, train a new associate and take care of my son, but I just can’t.  I don’t intend to allow this blog to become cluttered with weeds but I cannot maintain a regular schedule at present.  I will try to visit when I can, like what I can in the few stolen moments I get on Facebook, and know that I do care and love to watch your children grow right alongside by own child.  

With that said, I will leave you with this quick story about empathy…


My son loves everyone and everything.  No – literally, he does.  Here’s an example of a daily exchange we have:

“Mommy, do you love your nite-nite doll?”

“I don’t know T, do you?”

“Yes!  Mommy, does your nite-nite doll love you?”  (Pronouns people…  he means does “my” “love me”)

“Of course.  Everyone loves you,”  I reply.

This conversation occurs not just with his Kai-Lan nite-nite doll, but with his Scout nite-nite doll, Sheldon the class turtle, James Bond (don’t ask… well, okay – he found a car with James Bond music on it so now the car is James Bond…), and many other inanimate objects.  In fact, when I think about it, it’s mostly inanimate objects that are the subjects of these requests for assurances of love.

And, yes, perhaps, in response, I exaggerate about who actually “loves” my son, but so what?  I don’t think he needs to know the harsh realities of the world at age 6.  The world is a lot more pleasant place when everyone loves each other anyway, so I encourage that belief.

Now despite all this love, sometimes, I cry.  I may cry because I ate too many donuts or because all my blog readers have gone away, or I stubbed my toe on yet another Hot Wheels toy.  Regardless of the ‘def-con’ level of my tears, the little guy nearly always comes running over, practically tackles me with hugs and kisses and says, “I love you mommy!” to try to cheer me up.

And I have to admit.  This is some pretty special attention.  It always and unfailingly cheers me up.

In ABA, there is this concept called “generalizing”.  It means that my son has consistently gained some skill, whether it be putting on his own shirt, passing a ball, or responding to a greeting.  He’s perfected this skill to a degree where he’s – what they call, “mastered” the skill, doing it at a 95-100 percent of the times it’s called for.  The next step is to generalize that skill to natural circumstances when it comes up.  Sometimes, it works.  Sometimes, it doesn’t.


The little guy’s empathy has never been the subject of an ABA program.  It’s never been an issue.  I never stopped to think whether his unending empathy for his mom would ever be seen in a much less natural environment, like school.  You know, school?  That place where he rarely says “hi” back to his classmates unless prompted?  That place where he has to watch videos of the kids’ names to recognize who they are?  Well, it seems my little boy with autism does not need to “learn” empathy.  He feels it just when it’s needed the most.  

Recently, T and his classmates were cleaning up at the end of the school day.  All of them have bath mats for rugs they use when they have to do tasks in pairs on the floor.  They sit on these rugs on their chairs in class.  T was folding up his mat to put it away when a classmate – who we will call “Sally” – was rushing by behind him, not looking where she was going and,  you guessed it – Sally tripped and fell flat on her face behind T.

According to reliable sources (i.e., his tutor), T immediately turned around, went straight down to the floor where she was crying and hugged her.  He asked, “Are you alright, Sally?” and before waiting for a reply, he added, “I love you Sally!”  Apparently, the teacher and the tutor could not believe how full of compassion the little guy was.  Sally also was surprised.  Her response?  “I’m okay.  I love you too, T.”

How’s that for empathy?

Thanks for being patient with me readers.  I’ll be back on a more regular basis when things calm down.

About solodialogue

I'm a lawyer and the mom of a 6 year old boy with autism. I work part time and spend the rest driving here and there and everywhere for my son's various therapies. Instead of trying cases, I now play Pac-man and watch SpongeBob. I wear old sweaters and jeans and always, always flat shoes to run after my son. Yeah, it's different but I wouldn't change it for anything. The love of my child is the most powerful, beautiful and rewarding aspect of my life.
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9 Responses to An Explanation and a Little Empathy Story…

  1. I’ll be here ready to read whenever and whatever you write.

  2. Lisa says:

    Take care of yourself among all of the chaos! Miss you and look forward to hearing more once your schedule permits!!

    P.S. Loved the empathy story.

  3. I took a bit of a break myself, but was still reading and noticed you weren’t writing as much. I am really glad to hear you are (mostly) well. I look forward to hearing about T when you are able to write. Be well. xo

  4. Jen says:

    AWWWW!!!! I love that kid! You take your time and don’t stress out…especially over any donuts!!! 🙂

  5. I am glad to see you back. I missed you. I love reading Tootles stories, since he is the same age as Sensi. I have been writing less too. We all need to prioritize from time to time. Good luck with your case!

  6. Denise says:

    I love to read how you and Tay are doing. We all need a break and only have so much time during the day. Take Care of yourself Karen, lots of love to you and your family!!!!!

  7. Cyn says:

    Thanks for putting a smile on my face 🙂 “T” is so cute . Hang in there and I will pop in ever so often to see if you are back. Oh and I am not wishing you….you know…I am going to say what I used to say to my actor friends “break a leg.”

  8. Lana Rush says:

    So OK. Heart totally melted.

    P.S. I knew something was up b/c it’s just not like you to go so long between posts. Take as long as you need – we’ll be here when you get back. 🙂 Many prayers headed your way, sweet friend. xoxoxo

  9. Mom2MissK says:

    So, I feel super guilty for pinging you on Facebook and then disappearing myself. This beautiful post has been sitting here for THREE DAYS now and I’m only just getting time to read it. I guess you could say that I TOTALLY know how you feel. (How’s THAT for empathy?)

    I wish you and T lived closer. Little Miss could use a few lessons in empathy. Her response to strong emotions is usually inappropriate (she laughs when people get hurt and hits when they cry, for example). I guess it just goes to show that this thing really IS a spectrum.

    Good luck with the case and please give my regards to your mom. She is an amazing woman and what she has gone through in the past few years just to be with her family is nothing more than a testament of her love and her noble spirit. She really *IS* something!

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