Do people with autism have emotions and relationships?

A few weeks ago, I was blessed with a new nephew.  With seven younger siblings, you can imagine that a new niece or nephew is actually a pretty common occurrence but all jokes aside, still a very blessed occurrence- each and every single time.

My boys love getting new cousins and seem to really enjoy the task of being the oldest kids in our extended family.

Here are my boys meeting the new baby for the first time:

briancolton3 briancolton2 briancolton

I love these pictures for many reasons:

  • I love new babies.
  • I love my family- my immediate and my extended.
  • I love pictures and documenting all the moments that make up our life.
  • I love that they show Brian’s emotions.

Many people think people with autism don’t show emotions or struggle with emotions or can’t make relationships.

That’s not the case.

Brian has emotions- oh does he ever.  And he has no filter on his emotions, which is where his autism actually comes into play.  His autism doesn’t keep him from having emotions- it keeps him from being able to keep them in check.  Yet, I think maybe we could all learn something from that.  When was the last time you were this happy:

Does it make it hard when he’s upset and he can’t internalize it, until we’re at least out of a public setting?  Or that he can’t put that unhappiness into words so he doesn’t feel the need to engage in self-injurious behaviors?  Of course!!  But if we choose to see the upside, we see that when he’s happy, he is happier than any of us are.  And he’s not internalizing his emotions until they become a problem, like many of us in this world do, myself included.

And relationships.  They’re tricky.  In the outside-of-home world it probably looks quite bleak for my little man.  He doesn’t seem to engage with his peers very often without some prompting from the adults in his life.

Yet within our family, where he knows he is unconditionally loved and where people are patient with him and where people truly understand him, he has this:

briancolton4 brianprim

brianscarlett2 brianscarlettbriancorbin


Do I wish for more for my little man?  Of course I do.  I wish he was healthy and could talk and didn’t engage in self-injurious behaviors and had friends calling him up for a sleepover.  I continue to hope all the time, because hope and love are two key components of my foundation.  But I can’t live in the place where I only focus on what we don’t have, when we really have so much.

In the end, he is loved by many and he loves them back whole-heartedly. I know that with all this love and joy, I have to remember that he’s a pretty blessed little boy.

Heather Nelson

About Heather Nelson

Heather resides in Rockland where she is busy juggling life as a newlywed, a mom to two boys (one of which who has autism), a part time job in direct sales, and a full-time job as a pediatric occupational therapy assistant. She has a love for live music, karaoke, and cheering on the underdogs.