I could quote you the medical definition of autism, but you can google that yourself. It’s the often mentioned diagnosis these days and there are stories on what historical figures and current celebrities/famous figures might or might not have it. But living with it isn’t so glamorous.
Individually, autism or aspergers (which is the diagnosis for my son and myself) is unique to each person. Which makes it so hard for people who interact with one autistic person to know how to interact with another one. You can read a multitude of books or websites and still not feel you ‘know’ autism.
At some point, many of us with autism recognize that they don’t know how to act in ‘normal’ situations. And they want to fit in, they want friends, they want to be ‘normal’. So they seek out guides or models, often characters in cartoons/anime, movies, tv shows, or books, not realizing how awkward they still appear.
For my son, we had to limit time for certain shows and explain that it wasn’t right to jump about yelling and mock fighting when no one else was playing. Yu-Gi-Oh cartoons and Power Rangers were inspiring troublesome behavior and he didn’t realize that it was inappropriate.
For me, my guides were books and Star Trek. Mr Spock’s severe formality and reserve was echoed in many of the books I read such as ‘The Little Princess’. Victorian era manners and courtesies were memorized and practiced alone, while I hoped for a chance to try them out, not realizing that I no more fit in acting that way than I did without them. The key is that those guides brought ME comfort and a sense of rules to follow in a confusing social climate.
My manners have relaxed/loosened over the years but when I am under stress or in a new situation, my first reaction is to be quiet, observe, and be very polite. And a cup of tea couldn’t hurt….