This is a skate across some of the puzzles that arise for many people when trying to understand the common current thinking associated with autism. It is not written with any claim to expertise. It takes the view of the interested bystander. The aim is to explore rather than pin things down, and to look at things as a set of recurring puzzles. Some of these puzzles stem from there being a variety of descriptions of autism, which lead to a range of understandings and misunderstandings amongst the general population that, in turn, get in the way of society being structured in ways that support people with autism. It is deliberately rather wordy but, again, that is all part of taking an exploratory approach.
The first part of what follows is an outline drawn from various documents and websites of people and organisations actively involved with autism. The second part lists the many detailed behaviours that organisations and individuals consider as recurringly observable in the range of autistic people. These are set against the small number of features that are taken as defining autism, just to see what the overlap is. The third part tries to set out some of the difficulties that get in the way of everyday understanding of the issues around autism