The New York Times has a fantastic op-ed in which the authors argue that autistics are really social, only we get our actions misinterpreted as being uninterested in being social. For example,
Take eye contact. Some autistic people say they find sustained eye contact uncomfortable or even painful. Others report that it’s hard to concentrate on what someone is saying while simultaneously looking at them. In other words, not looking someone in the eye may indicate that an autistic person is trying very hard to participate in the conversation at hand. Unfortunately, this attempt to engage often gets interpreted as a lack of interest.
I have certainly told people exactly this, that I can either look them in the eye or pay attention to what they’re saying, but I can’t do both. Of course, most people interpret lack of eye contact as a lack of interest in what you’re saying, but when it comes to autistics, it really means quite the opposite.
The rest of the piece is quite good, and I’m thrilled the New York Times ran it. It’s gratifying to be treated as a fellow human being for a change.