ABSTRACT

In this chapter, the author looks at autistic emotional connection through the lens of forming friendships and considers some of the ways in which autistic emotional processing can be different to neurotypical emotional processing. She highlights the risks of understanding the autistic emotional landscape through neurotypical paradigms by the collapse of her first marriage. Research has shown that autistic brains process emotions differently to neurotypical brains, and autistic people deploy different emotional regulation strategies compared to neurotypical people. The research into autistic emotional experience tends to interpret observed differences as deficits. One of the most pronounced differences reported by autistics about their emotional landscape is the propensity of the emotional processing centres of their brain to shutdown. The misinterpretation of natural autistic emotional shutdown as abnormal neurotypical mental illness has had an effect on the author’s mental health as well as on her relationships.