With the possible exception of the severely autistic, most individuals with autism have to spend their lives modifying their social behavior. They are taught step by agonizing step how to act like their neuro-typical (NT) peers to fit in, avoid making other people uncomfortable, and make friends. They are taught not to stim in an obvious way (hand flapping, toe-jumping, etc) but to do something more socially acceptable like clap or pat their legs. They are taught to look at people's faces even though this often makes them incredibly uncomfortable. They have to learn to be to be quiet when they feel the need to make noises to calm themselves, and to sit still when they need to fidget. They have to answer questions from strangers, to hug even though it feels awkward or even painful, to shake hands and to be social on our terms instead of their own. They are pushed to be flexible and spontaneous when they crave order, structure, and predictability. They have to learn to tolerate sounds, sights, colors and sensations that are distracting, upsetting, painful, irritating and just plain uncomfortable, while still performing daily tasks or chores, or learning new things. What is natural, comfortable, and intuitive to them has to be suppressed or altered to fit in. They are told again and again to think about how others are feeling, something that they find extremely difficult to begin with, so that they can modify their behavior in ways that the NTs will find acceptable and not bothersome. Even when they're doing these things to the best of their ability, they still can't read the subtle messages people send each other through body language, tone of voice, and facial expression. So, in the end, all their efforts to fit in often still leave them in the cold.
If you think about it, truly think about it, this is a Herculean task we are asking, one we would be hard-pressed to accomplish ourselves.
Imagine for a moment that the roles were reversed and you, NT reader, awoke to find yourself a neuro-typical kid in an autistic world. In order to make it, you will need to learn to behave as they do, all day, every day, even though their behavior seems senseless and unnatural. You will have to learn not to sit still for long unless you're in the privacy of your house or room, but to jump, wiggle, jitter, toe-walk, run and spin for most of the day while you do your tasks. Sitting still at school will make you stick out and the kids might make fun of you, so don't stop moving, even if you're exhausted. Whatever you do, don't look at everyone's faces and eyes. Looking at them helps you recognize people and makes you more comfortable, but it makes everyone else uncomfortable, so learn to look somewhere else and find a different way to recognize people. All the sounds everyone makes drive you nuts and make it hard to concentrate, but you're just going to have to block it out and find a way to ignore it while you study or do your work, shop for your food, or watch a movie. In fact, you really need to learn to do these things while making some kind of noise yourself to fit in.
You may find it easier to express yourself in words, but you're going to have try to change that because not everyone speaks words. Instead, you need to learn to communicate in the universal language of pictures. Please make sure that your pictures are clear, concrete, and in order. Until you can clearly express your thoughts, needs, and interests in well-ordered pictures, many people will assume you're intellectually slow. Also, you should make every effort to develop an intense interest in one thing in school and learn absolutely everything about it. Plan to spend many hours each day on that subject until you've mastered all you can. Success in school will depend on your level of expertise in that one area, so study hard and don't get distracted.
The clothes you have to wear are all smooth and repetitive and you may really want something fitted or some variety, but everyone else likes to know what to expect when they see you, so get used to it. Also, get used to the same meals every day, and no, don't keep asking for something new because you're bored. It's not normal to want new foods all the time, so even if you're gagging at the thought of having meatballs for the 400th time in a row you're just going to have to deal. It won't kill you to learn the routine like everyone else. And no, we will not be taking any spontaneous trips to the park or the beach. No one likes unexpected things, so if it's not on the schedule it's not happening!
You may crave touch, hugs, physical affection, but it makes almost everyone else around you really uncomfortable, so whatever you do, don't touch or hug people unless you know them really well and they say it's ok - and that means mom and dad, too. I know that this makes you feel lonely and uncomfortable, but it's important not to alienate the other people around you. Also, you should learn to express your emotions in extremes - no quiet crying or small smiles that no one will notice - only big emotions or completely flat ones. Learn to tantrum every so often like everyone else. Yes, this may feel really unnatural and false to you, and take a lot of effort and energy, but with practice you should be able to do it a few times a day. Also, don't try to make friendly small-talk or chit-chat with people. It's unnatural and people get offended when you try.
I could go on, but I'm sure that you see how crazy this would feel, how forced and exhausting it must be to spend all day trying to remember and match an endless list of social rules that feel arbitrary and contrary in order to be considerate of people who don't appear to have any idea how to be considerate in return. Every day we ask autistic people to conform to fit our standards, to be uncomfortable so that we can be comfortable, to work harder to be more like us without meeting them half-way.
Yes, we need to teach our autistic children how to put themselves in others' shoes, how to be a good friend, how to be generous, compassionate, how to control their impulses and manage their sensory challenges. But maybe we have to teach ourselves more compassion too, and not just when it concerns those who are easy to understand. Maybe we need to learn to recognize and accept that their needs and drives and behaviors, as foreign and incomprehensible as they may be, are as real and valid as our own, and that they're deserving of our consideration, too. After all, that's what we're asking them to do every day for the rest of their lives.