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To the Person Who Asked, 'Can Autistic People Control Their Emotions?'

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Can anyone “control” their emotions? Can a person control what they feel when loss happens? When a situation goes beyond their control and things start happening that clash with their view of the world? The answer, of course, is no. If it was yes, there would be no need for psychologists. Depression would not be an issue; nor would anxiety. Nor would it matter whether or not you are “in the right mood” for anything.

When you ask if someone can control their emotions, you’re not asking whether their sudden emotional reaction is “over the top.” You are actually asking why they are unable to “mask” their emotions in a way you find acceptable.

Autistic people feel emotions deeply. When someone with autism or sensory processing disorder has too many intense thoughts and/or emotions to respond to, their brain goes into meltdown. The same can be said for emotions. In fact, emotions often have more bearing on whether or not one has a meltdown than having too much information to mentally process at once.

Before you ask, “Can therapy help?” please consider why you would think of sending someone into therapy for feeling emotions. Such a comment could make them feel that their emotions are invalid, and that they should try to erase them. Instead of trying to find ways to suppress the emotion, try supporting them in channeling their emotions.

The creative arts are a great way to release emotion. Maybe they could record a video of their point of view for a YouTube channel. Maybe they could paint, doodle, sketch, write music, arrange a playlist etc. Maybe they could also do something like this: Take the question that triggered their emotion and save it for later. Then, when they feel they know exactly how to respond, type up that perfect response and get it out into the community. Like I’m doing right now.

Getty image by Bunditinay.

Originally published: April 17, 2019
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