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The empathy spectrum in the Playshops

Looking at a colour-wheel-emotion (http://davidmcgettigan.ie/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/colour-wheel-emotion.jpg), I have realised that I also used Playshops as a way to bring my positive emotions in deeper and more shade colours, that is, to hold and enjoy them more. Base on my experience working with autism and the colour-wheel-emotion, I will try to clarify the main point in this text.

While I was in London, I was working with two guys with autism. Although they could do many things by themselves, their particular behaviour fell in the Autistic condition. Pointing out some notes that I took in a Chris Barson´s course, Autism is considered a Sensory Processing Disorder that makes people´s brain process sensory information in a confused way (Zacheri, 2009). Because people with autism have different levels of cognitive ability and needs, there was established an Autism spectrum, which has two edges: hyper and hypo. The first edge represents individuals who are too sensible to stimuli such as light, smells, or sounds. For them, a snapping can sound like a hammer hitting a wall, and tobacco smog can act as a very dense gas that could suffocate. Meanwhile, the second edge represents individuals with low sensibility to that kind of stimuli. For them, hitting themselves is a

the way they use to feel something, or touching things frequently allows them to perceive better what they are seeing.

In my view, the experts in this issue have created those categories and developed concepts based on their own experience, that is, they reflect what happen to themselves into the other, even the first are average people. Therefore, being hyper- or hypo-sensible could be used to describe people who have not the Autistic condition. In my case, I feel that I am hypo-sensible, and I have difficulties at feeling my own mood in happy situations, unless they are really intense. So, I do not create empathy in social situations easily or share a collective feeling of happiness in a nice moment. Perhaps, in my case, my physiological or psychological process are different from people with autism. Still, sometimes both would look as we were mentally unconnected in the eyes of others. Even if we want to integrate ourselves in the social situation, our lack of skills to continue the game of  empathy with others is difficult.

Definitely, I cannot say I am hypo-sensible, because I do not have a sensory process disorder, while a person with Autism has it. However, I know a little bit how difficult could be to create empathy with others.

Sharing, understanding and behaving toward the feelings of others is supposed to be a quality of social beings (except if someone fits in the category of psychopath). People with autism or me are not apart of that, and I believe we can get to know better ourselves and others if we work on it, even if we have to give an extra effort on it.

Citizens without Borders was a space to develop that kind of empathy with the people I met there, covering different emotions per playshop rather than going just through a nice or bad feeling during the whole activities. So the empathy I experienced there covered different spectrums of emotion as if I were covering spectrums of colours.

Following the colour-wheel-emotion I mentioned before, I used to start each session in orange colours, which are related with being afraid. Then I jumped to calm and relaxed, or shades of blue, through warming exercises, unless I would have had to interact with others in that stage, making me jumping to worry and apathetic, which are derived from the red colour. However, both feelings or colours disappeared in the next task or core activity, where I could be in blue, orange and green (anxious, disappointed and intrigued). Finally, I got an active and energetic green (enthusiastic) in the stage of sharing my thoughts, when my emotions passed to be only in the green spectrum. And that is how I achieved deepest emotional shades throw the playshops.
In my everyday activities, I am used to define my emotions in the brightest and blandest colours of the spectrum, and sometimes I feel that they are not strong enough to make my life meaningful. But in the Playshops I went through colours of different shades until finishing in clear feelings of happiness. It does not mean that those spaces changed and painted my life forever. Nevertheless, the Playshops gave me a glance of how colourful a social moment could be, and it gave me clues about how to produce empathy with others, even if it could seem impossible to do it for me.

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