Creative People Have the Ability to Empathize: Parasuram Ramamoorthi


People who are creative and imaginative have the ability to empathize, believes Parasuram Ramamoorthi, founder of Velvi. Ramamoorthi has been working with neurodivergent people for the past two decades. “People with autism can paint, write poetry, and perform on stage. If this isn’t imagination, then imagination has to be redefined,” he says.

Speaking to Nish Parikh, Rangam CEO, in a weekly chat show on empathy and inclusion, Ramamoorthi said, “Some people attending many of my workshops started imitating me after one or two sessions. They would speak or walk like me and even make hand gestures that I do while speaking. These people can easily understand and empathize. They look behind the action and see your intention.”

A playwright, poet, and drama therapist, Ramamoorthi’s first rendezvous with a person on the spectrum happened when he visited a school in England to teach theater in 2001-02. All the children, except one, participated in his workshop. The teacher told Ramamoorthi that the child has autism. He later studied about autism and neurodiversity and conducted theater workshops for people on the spectrum.

“Even when a creative person is reprimanded,” says Ramamoorthi, “he or she tries to introspect and look for the reason behind it. Once they find the reason, they begin to empathize with the action. The same is expected from the organization where a person on the spectrum works. Autistic employees may come in late but they won’t leave until their work is complete. That speaks about their commitment and dedication.”

Ramamoorthi believes that since people on the spectrum have challenges with multitasking, it helps them stay focused. “Nothing is more important to them than the work they have in their hand,” says Ramamoorthi. “They don’t even eat or take a break before finishing the work.”

According to the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI), a statutory body under the ministry of social justice and empowerment, 15 out of every 10,000 people have autism. The number could be 64 per 10,000 or even higher, if the entire autism spectrum is included. Prevalence of autism continues to be under-reported due to misconceptions and lack of awareness.