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To Sam

My dad

Hi Sam...

So my dad has a type of autism that stops him from feeling emotions for others. It's physically impossible for him to feel love, hate, sympathy, empathy etc. This means that he has a hard time communicating to other people. They often think he's weird and don't really want to talk to him. The thing is though, he's kind of in denial; he doesn't want to believe that he has this condition, in fact, the only reason I know he has it is because my mum told me about a year ago. I've met people with the same condition and they act exactly the same, so I know he defiantly has it.

Now on to my problem: I'm worried that I have the same thing. I'm always saying things that are really weird and I don't know why I said them, and I act really weirdly sometimes and I don't know why. Before I just put it down to social awkwardness or no verbal filter, but now I'm not so sure. I'm worried that this will affect my relationships with my friends and family, or that I'll never be able to get a boyfriend because of it. If it was just social awkwardness, I could learn to get it or something, but if I have an actual problem, I'm scared that I might be like this for life. Thank you for listening,

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Thanks for your letter. It sounds as though you have an idea of what autism can be like from living with your dad and meeting other people with autism. People with autism do experience emotions, but can find it difficult, sometimes impossible, to communicate them to other people.

They may find it difficult to read signals of other people's emotions. This means they might find it challenging to work out what other people might be feeling from facial expressions or body language.

You say your dad is in denial about his condition. It might be that he finds it hard to talk about it, or it may never have occurred to him that he's different. For your dad, life has always been this way - perhaps he can't imagine being any other way. He may not feel the need to talk about the differences between him and others as he may not see them as a problem.

It's understandable that having grown up around your dad with people not always wanting to talk to him, you may worry about having similar problems fitting in. Wanting to fit in is a natural instinct for most of us, just as we often don't want to stand out for being different in a negative way.

People with autism are often misjudged because not enough is understood about it. People are often frightened by things they don't understand. This doesn't make anyone with autism weird or strange.

If you are autistic, the differences you're worried about now will have been happening from an early age. However, the only reliable way of knowing whether you have autism is to get a diagnosis. The first step would be to see your GP and get their advice. 

From what you've said, you have friends, so even if you are on the autistic spectrum it hasn't affected your ability to form relationships. There's no reason you shouldn't carry on making friends and having good relationships. There's no reason to believe that you won't have a boyfriend either. After all, your dad had a relationship despite whatever difficulties he has had.

I hope this helps, but remember you can always talk more with a counsellor if you need to.

Take care,

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