Encyclopedia of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Living Edition
| Editors: Fred R. Volkmar

Double Empathy

  • Damian Elgin Maclean MiltonEmail author
  • Brett Heasman
  • Elizabeth Sheppard
Living reference work entry

Latest version View entry history

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6435-8_102273-2


The double empathy problem (DEP) refers to a “disjuncture in reciprocity between two differently disposed social actors” who hold different norms and expectations of each other, such as is common in autistic to non-autistic social interactions (Milton 2012, p. 884). With different dispositional outlooks and personal conceptual understandings, interactions involving autistic and non-autistic people are susceptible to frequent misunderstandings. It is a “double problem” as both people experience it, and so it is not a singular problem located in any one person. However, “the disjuncture may be more severe for the non-autistic disposition as it is experienced as unusual, while for the ‘autistic person’ it is a common experience” (Milton 2012, p. 885).

In principal, the DEP becomes more marked the wider the disjuncture in dispositional perceptions of what constitutes the social context. It is suggested that “social subtext is never fully given as a set of a priori...

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Copyright information

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Authors and Affiliations

  • Damian Elgin Maclean Milton
    • 1
    Email author
  • Brett Heasman
    • 2
  • Elizabeth Sheppard
    • 3
  1. 1.Tizard CentreUniversity of KentCanterbury, KentUK
  2. 2.Centre for Research in Autism and Education (CRAE)UCLLondonUK
  3. 3.School of PsychologyUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK