Autism spectrum is peculiar in that it is defined to include people with a psychological disorder as well as people with certain masculine personality characteristics.
Tyler Cowen writes:
Thinking back on history, maybe you've wondered how it was that American colleges and universities could ever have contributed to racist discourse. But Princeton and many other institutions kept out Jews, and "academic" defenses of slavery, segregation, and eugenics were commonplace until broader social changes rendered such views unacceptable.Yes, the nonautistics often say that the autistics have various deficiencies in understanding other people, and in the process the nonautistics show that they do not understand autistics.
The sad truth is that dehumanizing ideologies are still with us in the modern university, although they take very different forms. Prime examples include the unacceptable ways we sometimes talk and think about the autism spectrum.
A few years ago, Michael L. Ganz, who teaches at the Harvard School of Public Health, published an essay titled "Costs of Autism in the United States." Nowhere in the essay does he consider whether autistic people have brought benefits to the human race. Can you imagine a comparable essay titled: "Costs of Native Americans"? Ganz might think that autism is strictly a disease, but he never mentions or rebuts the fact that a great number of autistics reject this view and find it insulting. ...
Autism is often described as a disease or a plague, but when it comes to the American college or university, autism is often a competitive advantage rather than a problem to be solved. One reason American academe is so strong is because it mobilizes the strengths and talents of people on the autistic spectrum so effectively. In spite of some of the harmful rhetoric, the on-the-ground reality is that autistics have been very good for colleges, and colleges have been very good for autistics. ...
We're also learning that a lot of the stereotypes about autistics are false or at least misleading. It's been suggested, for instance, that autistics don't care much about other people, or that autistics lack genuine emotions or are incapable of empathy. The more likely truth is that autistics and nonautistics do not always understand each other very well. It's odd that the people who make this charge so often, in the very act of doing so, fail to show much empathy for autistics or to recognize their rich emotional lives. Even when the cognitive capabilities of autistics are recognized — most commonly in the cases of savants — it is too often accompanied by a clichéd and inaccurate picture of a cold, robotic, or less than human personality.
I do think that the over-emotional and empathic nonautistics would be considered a disease or a plague if they were in the minority.