INTRODUCTIONResearch in the field of empathy development establishes a parallel between processes of self-awareness and empathy formation. As a result, acquiring a better comprehension of the existing relationships between the latter processes is integral in understanding not only standard but also atypical development in the studied sphere. Consequently, this article re-examines “theoretical and empirical considerations of self and empathy development during infancy…in both normal and atypical development” and brings to attention “practical implications in the form of concrete developmental interventions” (p. 2).
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Earlier research, presenting interrelatedness between developments of the empathetic concern and the sense of self by infants during two first years of life, was used as the background information. Basing on the latter, the authors proposed unambiguous interventions, aimed at enhancing “self-concept and empathetic concern” formation processes of infants developing typically as well as children with autistic complications (p. 1).
The Interventions, presented by the authors, stressed the importance and noted the variety of activities to be conducted with infant participation and aiming at enhancement of self-development and “ability to relate to others in an empathic fashion” (p. 9). Additionally, active role of a care-giver (particularly in the case of the autistic infants), assisting the children in constructive discovery of the surrounding world through formulating of empathetic and “structured environment, one that promotes continuous learning and progress”, was noted (p. 9).
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION
It is suggested that future continuation of the study, with both disabled and normal children, will contribute to the understanding of basic development and “empirically based interventions” to influence formation of infants’ healthy self-understanding and empathic capacities (p. 12).
It is commonly believed that increasing ability to relate to those around is a distinct and essential feature characterizing typical infant development. Unambiguous form of connection to others is empathy. The children in their early years undertake various expressions of the latter. Moreover, occurrence and the complexity of empathic reactions alter as the normally developing children become older. The notion, prevailing in the field, suggests a correlation and existence of a parallel between the formation of self-awareness and development of the empathetic responses. Furthermore, the latter occur as responses to distressful conditions. Various empirical explorations have confirmed the connection between the two development processes. Further comprehension of the relation between forming sense of the self and developing empathy, has an exceptionally important meaning not only a as a contribution to the cases of normal infant development, but also that of atypical development. Children born with the autistic syndrome tend to face “great difficulty in developing both physical and representational sense of self” and as well as lack of “empathic capacity” (p. 1). Consequently, a number of interventions, aiming at providing stronger incentive for development of the self-awareness and, parallel to it, empathic response as reaction to distress of others, are presented. Additionally, the latter are formulated as universal formulas, with application being possible for children developing on the normal pace as well as infants with autistic syndrome.—————————————————————————–
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