Updated: Mar 23
Imagine you have as much vision as any other person. However, you can only look one way, and you'll never be able to look at other directions on your own. In other words, your vision is only limited to one line of sight, while the other directions can only be known to you only through external help/interpretation.
This is autism as a metaphor for all of its agents on the spectrum. Autism is a form of blindness. Not necessarily physical blindness, but social blindness. What seems self-evident to many others, it's going to be difficult for the autistic to understand because their "blindness" tells them only one direction. Some would call them fools, idiots, living in illusions and so on, but as long as they don't explain their condition and their limited social vision, people will not optimally understand their situation. Therefore, there is a difference between social understanding and general intelligence, that not everyone who is limited in his social vision is necessarily stupid. In a very large part of the time, even, the opposite is true, but it's not entirely clear by others as long as you don't unveil your situation. Hence, by the way, the importance of being honest about your situation and not hide the fact that you're on the spectrum, because then people will understand you a lot less and even think that your intelligence is lower than the average.
I myself am on the autistic spectrum, and while I'm writing philosophical articles, interpersonal issues and information are not completely understood by my own endeavor, and probably not as understandable as that of an average person. I'm having a hard time understanding humor and I sometimes interpreting it in a literal sense; it's hard for me to understand faces or tone, which makes me misinterpret the situation, and I'm very sensitive to external stimulation, which is part of the spectrum of those being on it to experience certain stimuli more intensely than the average person, which can lead or anxiety, stress and emotional stress. Because people on the spectrum are a sort of "socially-blind," it's very important to emphasize the social data and its meaning to them, so that they don't interpret the situation incorrectly and not to be clueless on different situations.
It's important to explain more clearly what they're talking about, to speak as directly as possible, and occasionally let them rest due to the sensory overload they're in when they go out into the world every day.
There's also something else that's important to point out: autistic is not a curse word. It's a series of conditions that people are born with and carry around their entire lives, conditions which are incurable. People on the spectrum are every day in the chance of suffering due to
miscommunication and following a misunderstanding in the outside world. So, it's important to avoid using the word "autistic" as a curse, especially when there's one or more autistic around. In regards to Israel, my home country, it's like being called a "kike" because of stereotypical Jewish attributes (like a big nose), whether or not you're actually Jewish.
Another thing that's important to note and that unfortunately not all people fully understand it, is that not all autistic is necessarily mentally retarded. The autistic sequence is specifically called "spectrum" because there are different kinds of functioning autism from low to high, determined by the ability of the autistic to function on its own. Not everyone on the spectrum is necessarily retarded, and not only are they not retarded, but some of them are smarter than the average, and indeed people on the spectrum that are high functioning, usually have average intelligence, or even an above average one.
From a personal point of view, I admit that some of my suffering as a human being on the spectrum is the fact that people don't understand that the way that I'm communicating is derived from my syndrome, and that's why a lot of people have argued that I'm condescending because of this, when the actual fact is not at all true. Make no mistake -- my communications are not as easy for me to use as it seems, although I've written a lot of books and articles in my life, I spoke at a late, and to this day, actually, communication is a thing that requires a higher cognitive effort than that of a normal person, and indeed that's one of the reasons I tend to find myself in a mental state of exhaustion, because the attempt to put words in a coherent manner requires a lot of mental exertion, especially vocal communication that I'm less accustomed to, unlike written communication. I'm sad to see that people think I'm condescending even though I don't consider myself superior to others.
When you meet someone, in real life or online, and you see that it's hard for him to understand things that seem to be fundamental and understandable, don't jump right into the conclusion that they're dumb or idiotic, since the first impression of a person like that doesn't necessarily indicate the potential that's inherent in him beyond his difficulty to understand social situations. Not everyone who fails to understand basic things is necessarily stupid, so it's important to keep an open mind and don't jump to conclusions. Who knows, maybe the person in front of you is very smart, if not a genius, that not all of our lives and not all of our intelligence must be based on the more social aspects of human life.
Explain to him what he didn't understand, and he spoke in a way that would understand, without using too much language. Put it simply and help him see what he can't see himself independently.