Greetings Earthlings! 🙂
Today I’d like to briefly elaborate on something that I’ve touched on in previous posts– autism and alexithymia.
So what exactly is alexithymia?
Alexithymia is a personality trait wherein an autist may struggle to identify and describe emotions in themselves and in others. We feel emotions just like everyone else, we just aren’t always aware of what it is we are feeling. It can be incredibly frustrating (ironically I’ve often struggled to identify this emotion in the past 😛 ) knowing that you feel something but not having a clue how to verbalize it or process it properly. I’ve honestly spent days going “The thing is…it’s just…um..I dunno!” round and round my mind until I can figure out what it is I’m feeling!
Thankfully as I’ve gotten older this happens less and less frequently.
Aoife’s Top Tip: as I’ve discussed previously, music can be quite beneficial when dealing with alexithymia. If I can’t identify an emotion, I tend to gravitate towards songs that sound like what I’m feeling or a particular lyric that resonates with my experience which can help get you past a rough patch 🙂
As many as 85% of autists may have varying degrees of alexithymia, but is there a scientific explanation for it?
The science remains unclear, however some neurological studies may provide us with some clues.
Early studies proposed that there is a breakdown in communication along the corpus callosum between the emotional right and the logical left hemispheres of the brain when emotional information is transferred to the language regions of the brain. In one third of autists, the corpus callosum (a thick bundle of nerves which connect the hemispheres) is either partially or completely missing which could explain the struggles to identify emotions. Another study suggests that dysfunction in the anterior cingulate cortex of the brain may contribute to alexithymia, an area of the brain associated with empathy that appears to be weakly activated in social situations in autists.
So try not to judge us too harshly when we struggle to show empathy 🙂
Hope you enjoyed this post dear Earthlings!
Enjoy the weekend! 🙂