The Importance of Empathy

Empathy is communicating that incredibly healing message of “You are not alone.”
Brené Brown

Throughout our lives we are presented with many opportunities to empathize with others. But for those on the autism spectrum, it is often difficult to understand these complex emotions and social behaviors. At SEEDs, we encourage our participants to look outside themselves and think about others, their community and the world around them. How can I help? What can I do to connect with the people I interact with? We asked SEEDs participants to share how they demonstrate empathy in their own lives.

Empathy is when one feels the same emotions that other people feel in a situation; this is important because it demonstrates a genuine connection to others.

I felt empathy when I watched the Disney 2018 film “Christopher Robin”. I cried when the adult Christopher was reunited with his childhood playmates after so many years apart. This was because I fondly remember the innocence of my early youth; a youth that I seem to never have entirely, yet has greatly diminished over time

Empathy to me means hearing of a feeling someone has and you remembering having that exact feeling. Many times the emotion of the other person you have empathy for had somewhat of a same situation for what the other person is feeling.

It is important to have empathy because sympathy does not go far enough. It’s like having sympathy for homeless children you see in a charity commercial. You may feel sympathy for the children. But you’re not willing to give money to charity. Empathy is giving money to the homeless children not because you had a similar situation but because you have or had the same feeling the children had. Like feeling alone for example.

Last time I felt empathy was when I was at my job at Fry’s. Some of the cashiers were complaining about a new courtesy clerk. They said he made the bags too heavy and you could tell they were annoyed. However I felt empathy because I had a hard time at first being a courtesy clerk and did things wrong or not the way they should have been. Mainly I think it was not being fast enough bagging the groceries.

What I want to do now is if he needs help I can tell him what groceries go where and tell him not to worry because it takes practice and also which cashiers to look out for who are not the friendliest.

Empathy, oh if only we can understand it. Sometimes, it’s good to share our feelings with another’s, other times it’s too hard to relate to one’s emotions.

One example would be when we witness someone having a meltdown out in public, it’s hard to understand why he or she is feeling that way. Maybe they had a bad day or have a mental illness. You might never know. To me, the best way to deal with such issues is to walk away and avoid them as much as possible. Arguing with them only leads to more anger.

Another example would be if you feel sorry for someone who lost someone dear to them. You would feel sad too if you’d lost a loved one of your own. This can be very relatable to anyone.

Empathy is an emotional feeling towards others in many forms. It’s something that we must endure in our everyday lives. Otherwise, we lose our cool and become self-centered. So go out there and care for someone who might share how you feel.

This article was featured in an issue of the SEEDs for Autism Newsletter. If you would like to subscribe and hear more stories from SEEDs participants, please visit our websiteThank you!


Interviews With Family Members

At SEEDs for Autism, one of the creative ways we practice social skills is by conducting interviews. Participants make eye contact, utilize active listening and focus on the speaker to gain information. In response to an online writing assignment, SEEDs participants practiced their skills at home by interviewing members of their family. 


This article was featured in an issue of the SEEDs for Autism Newsletter. If you would like to subscribe and hear more stories from SEEDs participants, please visit our websiteThank you!

Think Before You Speak

Being cooped up at home for extended periods of time can often be challenging. Tempers can be short and it is extra important to exercise self control with our words and our actions. One of the things we teach at SEEDs is “filtering” our thoughts before we speak them out loud. In this article, we asked SEEDs participants to share their thoughts on why it is important to THINK before we SPEAK. 

It is important to think before you speak because when you say a thought out loud that you don’t want the other person to hear, it will hurt feelings. Also it’s best to keep bad thoughts we have about others to ourselves; let’s be kind to one another. When I was over at a friend’s house spending the night we were having fun chilling. When her family and I sat together for dinner they started asking questions about certain topics I have thoughts on but I decided to keep them to myself. Because we were having fun, I didn’t want the situation to get weird so I gave a vague polite answer then moved on to something else. This was for the best. I think we should remind ourselves daily to think before we speak.

I have many examples of where I had to think before speaking at work. One of the co-workers I work with makes me angry because she wants me to bag groceries her way. Often I get angry at this and think about saying something rude to her because of my anger. I never say anything rude to my co-worker because that will lead to a confrontation, which would not be good because it could lead to loss of job or working with a coworker who has a grudge. What I do instead is just tell her I’m doing the best I can do and say I will do the groceries her way. My co-worker still complains but doing the best I can do is all that matters.

All my early life, I mostly spoke my thoughts instead of keeping them in my head when I’m supposed to. It can be really difficult to keep your thoughts to yourself, not just myself. 

I guess people don’t realize it’s more important to keep your thoughts to yourself or you will make others feel bad about themselves and not want to be your friend anymore. Swearing included whenever you’re dealing with kids.

I dare you to give this importance a thought and try to do better with it.


This article was featured in an issue of the SEEDs for Autism Newsletter. If you would like to subscribe and hear more stories from SEEDs participants, please visit our websiteThank you!

How Has Coming to SEEDs Improved Your Life?

Every day at SEEDs for Autism, we see personal development, self-confidence and skill building as our participants step out of their comfort zones and GROW! We celebrate the progress as these talented adults on the autism spectrum learn to embrace new experiences, gain confidence, find meaningful employment, achieve independence and cultivate friendships with their peers. One of the best ways to measure this growth is to ask our participants directly: How has coming to SEEDs improved your life?

Before I started working at Sprouts, I’d been going to SEEDs for Autism for seven years. SEEDs taught me how to find a job, how to apply for jobs, how to make resumes, being flexible, making new friends, staying on task and other things. Two months ago, I applied for a job at Sprouts and I got an interview a week later. After the interview they hired me right away and I started my first day at Sprouts on February 5. I love it so far because everyone is so nice and friendly. My co-workers are also nice, friendly and fun to chat with. This Thursday will be my one month anniversary at Sprouts. I’m so proud of myself that I found a job and still come to SEEDs. My position at Sprouts is a Courtesy Clerk, which is bagging, collecting carts, keeping the store and the bathrooms clean and helping people load their groceries in their car. 

SEEDs has helped me improve my social skills, and learn new things as well!

Seeds has helped me learn skills to deal with stressful events in my life. Also when I feel stressed out or upset, projects at SEEDs help take my mind off what happened.

  Talia, Ryan M., Isaiah and Kyle build social skills as they cultivate friendships!

I have friends and Seeds makes me happy.

My parents want me to be independent and make my own money when I get a job to take care of my family when they grow old. The reason I came to Seeds was to find the right place where people can understand me when I’m feeling stressed and also I would like to have someone help me with my job when I’m having trouble with my tasks and skills.
Seeds is a better place than any other job training I tried before since I had a very difficult time doing my job right and I got yelled at a lot of times for not listening carefully for instructions. With Seeds, my instructors are nice to me and I learn new things at each department I go to on the schedule that Ms. Mary Ann makes.
I like the teamwork at Seeds because I like to get along with others and make things together while learning new things. Whenever I’m feeling stress I will let my instructors know I need to calm down and go to a quiet place to pull myself together. 

 Jesse demonstrates focus as he works on a project in the Sewing Department.

Seeds makes my life better. My friends make me happy. I learn about making goat milk soap and I learn about sewing. Seeds make me happy.

During my stint at Seeds, I have reunited with some longtime friends from my elementary and high school days while also making some new friends. Before my stint, woodturning was the area where I did not have experience, but over time, I have learned firsthand from the instructor, Ed. Also, in Newsletter, I have seen poetry created by fellow participants, which inspired me to create my own poem below as an example. The poem I wrote is what I think represents love in the five senses from my perspective.

Love looks like a boy and a girl holding hands
Love sounds like ocean waves
Love tastes like chocolate cake
Love smells like vanilla coconut bath soap
Love feels like a girl kissing me on my cheek

Friendships GROW at Seeds for Autism!


This article was featured in an issue of the SEEDs for Autism Newsletter. If you would like to subscribe and hear more stories from SEEDs participants, please visit our websiteThank you!

Doing the Right Thing Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

Doing the right thing isn’t always easy – in fact, sometimes it’s real hard – but just remember doing the right thing is always right. – David Cotrell

Part of life is doing the things that are necessary, although they may not be what we want to do. At SEEDs for Autism, our participants learn to be flexible, cooperative and to be team players as they perform tasks that may not be their favorite. Our unique program provides adults on the autism spectrum valuable life skills and coping skills that will enable them to adapt to situations at home, at work or out in community.

A few of the things I should be doing are: Staying active and healthy, being independent and having a job. It is important for me to do these things anyway because I would feel accomplished and will have been successful with my goals. 

It’s hard to workout and eat healthy. But it’s important so you don’t get diseases,  stay healthy and be a better person.

I don’t like cleaning dog poop because it will be very stinky but I’m responsible for keeping the backyard clean and I can handle it.

Things I don’t like to do but I do them anyway:

1. Balance my check book
2. Clean my bathroom
3. Make my bed
4. Shopping for sandals


This article was featured in an issue of the SEEDs for Autism Newsletter. If you would like to subscribe and hear more stories from SEEDs participants, please visit our websiteThank you!