Monday, March 21, 2011


I know that it is often very difficult for our kids with severe disabilities to express their emotions in the usual ways. As parents, we learn to read their feelings. Even when they are infants, we learn the sound of a hungry cry versus a tired cry.

When our children are older, we can usually tell without their ever saying a word if they are angry or frustrated or happy. I'm not sure though that we can always figure out some of the more subtle feelings, being lonely, for example, or being worried about something.

I also wonder if our children with severe disabilities can read the emotions of other people. I believe they can even if they can't always put words to what they sense.

For example, I know that Ashley can tell when I am worried. I know she can tell when I feel bad but try to hide it. She can tell when I am sad or extremely stressed, and more often than not, her emotions will begin to match mine. That makes sense as it relates to the mother/child relationship.

But how about with the other people in their lives? Can our children tell if someone is truly being nice to them, or being nice to their face and making fun of them later? Can they distinguish the subtle emotions of others? If someone tells them that they love them, but as a parent, you know otherwise just from the other actions or words of that person, do you think our children can read that? Do our children understand pity, envy, and yes, even lies?

What do you think? Even if your children can't give voice to their emotions and the emotions of others, do you think they understand? I'm leaning towards an answer of 'YES'.


mommy~dearest said...

Absolutely. I do think that emotion is something you can even pick up with a "6th sort of sense". My so knows when I am happy, comforts me when I am sad, is helpful when I am sick, and stays the hell away from me when I am steamin' like a demon. Lol.

Ashley's Mom said...

MommyD - THANKS for the labels!!!

Michelle Morgan-Coole said...

That would depend on the disability I suppose. I know the Blue Jay can't seem to pick up on the more subtle emotions and she certainly can't tell sincere from fake. She also seems to have trouble interpreting and labelling her own emotions, although that is a bit of a different issue. At any rate, in her case, I blame that on the ASD ...