The book Mockingbird is one that taught me a lot about autism as well as some powerful lessons.
It was written by Kathryn Erskine and is told from the point of view of a ten year old girl with Asperger’s Syndrome. This beautiful book will resonate with people of all ages.
Caitlin is in fifth grade and meets regularly with her public school guidance counselor. There, she is given assignments to make friends and to stretch her comfort zone. She is also challenged to learn about things that don’t come easily for her. Specifically, to be empathetic to others. Compounding the difficulty of her efforts is the recent adjustment of having lost her older brother.
Following Caitlin’s point of view is nothing less than enlightening. For the most part, the rest of us learn empathy through the course of nature – or nurture – if you are fortunate. Caitlin has to persistently work at something that many take for granted.
It was eye opening to realize the implications of someone – especially someone so young- working to step outside her comfort zone. That’s hard for anyone. To follow her work and her progress was a wonderful journey.
You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view; until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.
~ Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird, J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1960
I am subtly and gratefully changed because I read Mockingbird. I took for granted that empathy, once leaerned, is something you just… have. I now have a greater understanding that empathy is an emotion that required continued education and refinement. Each person is different, has gone through different experiences, and reacts to those situations uniquely. An attitude of humble empathy requires us not to pass judgment on others or to lie idly by. Instead, we should take time to walk in their shoes.
I suggest it as a good book to spend time reading!