Re Asperger’s/autism, I propose an analogy …
ASPERGER’S IS LIKE …
Asperger’s is like being left-handed: even in cultures that don’t try to “cure” your difference, almost everything’s carefully designed and arranged for people who aren’t like you.
You can still — with some level of difficulty — learn to get through your day in this world:learn to do millions of things, big and small, in the socially determined “right” way that never feels quite right to you. Sometimes, you may even manage the “right” way so well that you avoid bumping elbows …but it will hardly ever feel quite right to you or work quite right for you, let alone become smooth and automatic and gracefully “right-looking” and spontaneous when you “act right” to try to fit in.
How well you do in society — how well you are allowed to do in society —
depends on how far the culture /a/ accepts left-handedness (in this case, the “social left-handedness” of Asperger’s) and /b/ has developed ways to teach its left-handers how to make excellent use of their own equipment and how to function in a world where most people are differently equipped.
There have been cultures and schools of thought that had neither /a/ nor /b/: that got rid of their “different” individuals, or that destroyed their areas of ability, or that otherwise excluded them from being dealt with as human.
There have been cultures and schools of thought that had /b/ but not /a/.People who think thst way try hard to teach the different ones, but with contempt and with the aim of changing them into the “right” people, the “real” people that the trainers wanted to create by peeling away all traces of the students’ “not-rightness” to reveal an imagined “right kind of person”:
the “real human being” that was allegedly somewhere inside the actual individual
who was right in front of them. (And even these teaching efforts are not as competent as they might be: because the methods-designers and teachers, in such cultures, don’t ask the “different ones” for ideas, and certainly don’t accept any ideas or comments that the “different ones” provide. The training is designed “about” the problem — without the people who live with that problem.)
There may have been cultures — there are certainly schools of thought — possessing /a/ but not /b/: they accept that the different ones exist, but they don’t bother about enabling the different ones to handle life despite any differences. They know how to teach typical people, not “different ones”: so the “different ones” don’t get taught (or they get taught only by methods designed for typical people)
Has there ever been a culture that cared about both /a/ and /b/?
OTHER AUTISM (not Asperger’s) IS LIKE …
If Asperger’s is like being left-handed, maybe high-functioning autism is like being left-handed with a right hand that doesn’t even work as well as a “right” person’s left hand: you have that much harder a time doing things “right” (especially if whatever impeded your socially “right” abilities also had other effects and even worsened some of the abilities that were “left”).
If so, then maybe low-functioning autism is like not having a right arm at all: it wouldn’t matter if your lack of the “right” abilities was caused by heredity or environment (except that, again, things would be extra hard if whatever was “left” was affected too).