The familiar stereotypes about social aversion do people with autism a great injustice." This quote from a recent study reveals a great deal about the damage that misunderstanding can cause. It comes from a recent study by two professors of psychology who decided to question the assumptions about how much people with autism want to interact with others. Interestingly, they did something not included in typical studies. They actually asked people with autism what they thought.
The study reveals that many of the behaviors common to autism, such as low eye contact, repetitive movements, and the verbatim repetition of words and phrases, are misinterpreted as a lack of interest in social engagement. The authors found that many people with autism express a deep longing for social connection.
The study shows that for people with autism, low eye contact can help them focus their attention, which actually enhances social engagement. Also, repeating phrases may also be a behavior designed to connect with others. Repetitive movements may simply be comforting.
Here is a quote from one of the people in the study: "You might have been told that people with autism do not want social or romantic relationships, but this is a myth. While it is true that many of us struggle to create or maintain them, this does not mean that we do not want them."
It is clear from this research that people with autism—like all human beings—want and need social connection. They express frustration that their behavior is misinterpreted. The authors conclude that, "The familiar stereotypes about social aversion do people with autism a great injustice."
Read the article here.