In a TEDx talk, Stephen Volan , an adult with Aspergers talks about what comes naturally to him and what had to be acquired though conscious effort, for example, he said
As precocious as I was at reading words I turned out to be much less able to read people
What we can forget is that this is often the case for non-autistic people too, that what comes naturally to autistic people may have to be acquired through conscious effort by non-autistic people, and that the end result may too be qualitatively different.
What comes naturally for my non–autistic son, for example, such as reading people and responding socially, is being consciously acquired by my autistic son. Also what seems natural for my autistic son, such as reading before he could speak, playing any instrument and knowing the day of the week that any date is, can be consciously acquired by my non-autistic son (although the day/date formula may be a little difficult to master!)
I imagine interacting socially for Joshua could feel a bit like the equation above. So many gestures to account for, facial expressions, subtext, intonation, emotions being conveyed, and then trying to remember all of that in a group context-when none of these things are your first language.
Stephen Volan adds:
To me subtext (innuendo, intent etc) is a foreign language, I may be fluent now but unlike most of you I wasn’t a native born speaker of it
The important thing is, he got there in the end.
There is a difference in the end results of my boys’ efforts to communicate or to play the piano. Both are enthusiastic, but one feels slightly stilted and at times a little off-key. There is an ease to that which is intuitive that is absent from that which is acquired through conscious effort, but both sound brilliant to me.