Last night Mike and I watched a very interesting documentary on Horizon about Autism. It covered a variety of facets from recent studies to historical anecdotes, however the most striking thing mentioned on the program is that we are all essentially on the autism spectrum.
MOST people have some autistic traits (social awkwardness for example) and if we used autistic traits as markers on a ruler up to 50, then the majority of the population will have around 25 autistic traits. On average we are all about 50% autistic with an almost perfect bell curve showing that a few people have no autistic traits and a few people have all of them.
To end up with a diagnosis of autism you need to have two things: a high score on the metric autism scale mentioned above AND the negative impacts of these traits on your functioning in society. So you may in fact have all autistic traits known, however if you have found coping mechanisms that allow you to function in society then you may not receive a diagnosis.
Of course this led us to naming our known autistic traits and it was remarkable to realise Mike will most likely score quite highly on the autistic metric scale, however his functioning in society is fine. This is partly because I work as a buffer for him and partly because Mike fills the minimum social contract required and no more (so he isn't too exhausted by his daily conversations).
Now we are starting to see autism as not only something that has historical context, but something we ALL have to a degree, it is interesting to see what is essentially evolution in progress. Different types of minds are born every day, some we can interpret (and fit into society) and some we cannot. But perhaps we are only one step away from those minds ourselves, and a shift in perspective is all that is required.