Researchers in Germany just published some interesting findings about the prosocial behaviors of kids with autism.
From the abstract of Helping and sharing with preschool children with autism:
We assessed helping and sharing behaviors in 3- to 6-year-old neurotypically (NT) developing children and children diagnosed with ASD. Children with ASD were more inclined to show spontaneous helping in the absence of the helpee than NT children. In the sharing task, NT children shared the resources equally between themselves and the recipients. In contrast, ASD children kept less for themselves and gave more resources away. In addition, the stronger the ASD symptoms were and the less cognitively weaker they were, the more children preferred to give resources to a rich than to a poor other.
I didn’t pay the $40 fee to read the whole study, so I’m basing all of my thoughts from the abstract. As a father of a 5-year-old with autism, I can see this. Or at least how this could be perceived. Griffin, who will be 6 in May, often doesn’t really care if someone takes a toy he’s playing with. Most of the time he’s the most content kids I’ve ever met. Now if he has a favorite toy, he’s a bit more likely to care.
I’ve read that employees who are autistic are more likely to be content with their jobs–the routine of it, what they are paid, their benefits. Often they can be more loyal to a company than those who don’t have autism. I think it’s not in their nature to ask, “How can I get more?” They are much better that the rest of us being content with enough. This is just one of the many lessons we have to learn from individuals with autism.
As for this study, I would be interested to learn how they define “spontaneous helping.” Were these kids on the spectrum acting altruistically or were they simply maintaining order in their world out of habit.
Either way, I’m thankful for neurodiversity. I know there are challenges; believe me. But our Griff, helps us see the world in new and amazing ways all the time.