Log in

The NT Social Bias

A Google search for "Autism warning signs" brings up a list of thirty traits as result number one; twenty-five of those thirty have a distinct social focus: Not pointing. Not playing with others. Seeming to be in your own world. Language delay. Being unusually independent for your age. What I think the list implies is that NTs see autism in terms of a pre-existing social focus.

Something I've been observing lately about the way that NTs, and the world in general, looks at autism, is a distinct, strong, social bias. Now, don't get me wrong; when I "bias", I don't mean "bigotry"; I simply mean the tendency one has, when one is focused in some direction, to see the rest of the world in light of that subject. NTs are very good at socializing, at connecting with each other, at communicating with each other; and they are focused on that skill. NTs see things in terms of socializing, just the way a biologist sees things in terms of biology, a doctor sees things in terms of medicine, or an architect sees things in terms of building design and construction.

But autism is a social disorder... isn't it? Autism means not being able to communicate, being unconnected to others, doesn't it? All those other things are really just quirks that are unimportant compared to communication... aren't they?

No. Actually, autism is not a social disorder or a communication disorder; it's a neurodevelopmental disorder that means a different cognitive style. If you are autistic, everything about you is different, not just how you interact with others. You see things differently; you process sensory information differently; you solve problems differently. You learn in a non-typical way; even your sense of time is affected.

Socializing is just the part of autism that NTs find easiest to detect; and when you're very good at using a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. (This is a figure of speech that has been modified to mean that if you are an expert in a subject, you try to treat every problem--including understanding autism--as though it were a problem related to that subject.) Neurotypical parents of autistics sometimes call their children "cured" when they learn to speak, or learn to force eye contact, or make their first friend. What they don't realize is that this autistic child will always be autistic (the "lost diagnosis", if it happens, still leaves you neurologically autistic); and that the social and communication traits they find easiest to detect and concentrate the hardest on extinguishing are simply the most obvious parts of a global condition.

For me, socialization and communication are where autism affects me the least. At least according to the MMPI, I'm an obvious introvert--that, and my lack of stereotypical female traits, are the two traits that this particular outdated instrument judges to be the most extreme about me. That means that I don't have a strong need to interact with people. A close friendship means meeting once a month. I speak to my family about as often, and most of the time they're the ones to initiate contact. I'm not a misanthrope: I like people; but in small doses.

What autism creates for me most of all is a different way of seeing the world. I'm deluged by sensory information. I wear soft clothing, sunglasses, earphones. Everything in my apartment is unscented, and I hold my breath in the detergent aisle. I have problems filtering speech out of background noise. My clothing is designed to keep me at the right temperature. I even have a hairstyle specifically meant to reduce sensory annoyance. When I try to process all of it, the information can get jammed up on the way. When I was a little girl, I used to have tantrums because the world overwhelmed me. Now, I shut down or withdraw, and only have tantrums if I can't escape. If you didn't know any better, you would see that as a social thing; but it isn't.

Planning, time-management, and transitions are another obvious expression of my autistic traits. I have problems planning my day; so I use schedules, lists, and routines instead. I do things the same way every time; if the routine breaks, I feel lost. I have problems switching from one thing to another. Tasks without natural conclusions can trap me for hours. I have problems getting out of bed, getting into bed, getting into the shower and out of it. I hyperfocus, and often don't seem to notice the world around me or the people around me. That has very little to do with socializing, and yet it would be seen that way by many NT observers.

And then there are the special interests. What it is about me that predisposes me to latch onto something like this, I don't know; but there it is. Unlike many autistics, I have special interests that change as time passes. The stronger the interest, the shorter the duration. An interest that takes up twenty hours out of twenty-four may last only a week; an interest that takes up only two hours out of the day may last a decade. I've been known to keep detailed spreadsheets full of facts, to check out fifty books at a time from the library, to learn college-level material while still in grade school, or to become fascinated with something usually found interesting by people twenty years my junior. These unusual interests meant that I did not play the same way children my age did. This was also not a social thing; but as far as NTs are concerned, the social aspect is apparently the most important part of it.

When I explained my diagnosis to my mother, she immediately protested, "But you had such good eye contact as a baby!" She described the way, when she was feeding me, I would look up into her face. I don't doubt it; as an infant, with the usual short range of infant eyesight, Mom's face would have been an interesting thing to look at; and it's not surprising that I did. What I do know is that I lost eye contact sometime between my infancy and second grade (when my first memories of conversations confirm it)--it probably happened around the time I began to use sophisticated speech. Multi-tasking face-reading and speech is simply not something my brain is built for.

Eye contact, speech, face-reading, cooperative play... all of them are useful signs of autism. It's important for NT parents to recognize autism in their children; we do need a different education and a different environment if we're to grow up well, and it's good to know early that we are different. And communication will always be priority number one in the education of an autistic child; anyone can do things for you, but nobody can speak for you. While the NT focus on socializing does help us detect many cases of autism early, it may be part of why female autistics, with our generally better ability to imitate social behavior, are not detected as early or as reliably as males.

Still, it seems that only autistic people themselves, and the researchers who are looking at non-social aspects of autism, really understand the global nature of autism--that it's not just a communication disorder, but a different way of thinking, learning, and perceiving. Your whole brain is different. Autism doesn't vanish when you are in a room by yourself. It doesn't just affect how you interact with other people, but how you interact with the whole world.



When I did a post on autism myths, one of the ones that I included was that autism is primarily a social disability.

For me, too, the social stuff is the least prominent, especially given that I'm already an introvert as it is.

One of the things that really bugs me about autism treatment is that there's so much focus on socialization and behavior, and so little on dealing with sensory input. People don't get that the social and behavioral issues often have some sort of sensory thing underlying them, and that taking care of the sensory issues can also help with socialization and behavior!
My future sister-in-law is going to be an OT and from what she's said of her work with autistic kids, the big thing she does is help with sensory issues. So maybe there is hope.
Hmmm. Although I can understand your frustration, a list of warning signs will typically be for non-autistics (NTs?) to use, so need to use our skill set. Suppose you had to write a list of indicators for guessing that someone was blind: you might list sunglasses, cane, guide dog - things you can *see*. Completely useless for someone who is blind, but very useful for everyone else. The assumption behind these lists is that autistics will know far more about autism and so not need help identifying each other (a justified assumption? I've no idea).

Out of curiosity, what happens if you focus on something plain and uninteresting, frex most people's foreheads?
If I focus on something "plain and uninteresting" (like looking past people's heads), I can focus better on what someone is saying. It's my usual approach to conversations. Sometimes I look at mouths, to reinforce what people are saying.

The "warning signs" lists are useful for autism detection. However, I would really like to see more non-socially-focused stuff in research and education.


the Nt social bias entry

As a mother of a 14 year old daughter with autism, this was the most interesting and comprehensive writing about this subject I have ever read..I've always told my daughter that autism means that her brain is whole, but that she just learns and sees the world differently. We need all of these people in the world as complements to NT. Thank you for writing this.


this is an interesting description. i am neurotypical but i think i experience a lot of what you have described...

sometimes i also find myself absolutely overwhelmed by sensory input.
since i was a child i've had to take off all of my jewelery, my watch, my glasses and put my hair in a bun to be able to concentrate on homework, anything i could feel on my skin has always been distracting. once i got a haircut with bangs and it made it impossible for me to work, until i learned how to bobby pin them away from my face. although i am a female college student, i dress and style my hair more based on how it will feel than how it looks... particularly when i have to work on something that takes focus.. and the harder i find the work, the less tolerance i have for those type of distractions.

i also have a hard time in loud places.. particularly loud, crowded places. being taken to a loud, crowded bar has caused me to freak out in a way that i find really difficult to explain. it has happened more than a few times. i just have to leave and if i can't, i have what seems to others like irrational reaction... the only way i can describe it is that it feels like it's an emergency.
my friends don't seem to understand what is ok and what is too loud, which is a very clear threshold for me. there is a list of places i avoid because they cause me to need to be alone for days following the experience. my tolerance for crowds and background noise significantly decreases if i am tired... and my aversion to these situations is not because of social reasons, it's just immediately exhausting to be there.

i am an introvert, but i don't really have problems socializing in an introverted way.
i have less than a handful of best friends but i don't feel like i need more.

your description has admittedly made me wonder if i am not as neurotypical as i think, but i don't really think its a problem.


I have a similar problem. I've learned over the years that I have sensative hearing which can at times be physically painful. I can't hear better than other people, everything is just louder to me. I also have a hearing range (in terms of hertz) that's more sensative than is typical for my age group. (As you get older, you lose hearing of higher frequencies and this starts earlier than some people think. Teenagers can hear frequencies that even 20-somethings can't.)

If there are a lot of voices, they start to sound like a loud roar. A soft whisper can sound like a louder but still indistinct rasp. Some electronics can cause very high pitched tones which can range from annoying to painful but many of these tones are out of people's hearing so you can imagine them looking at me like I'm making it up. A crying baby across the room can make me react like I'm standing behind a jet engine and the other person at the table will barely hear it and will think I'm being negative and overreacting.

When my wife gets migraines, she experiences sounds (and with her: also light) similar to how I do. I wish she didn't get these miserable migraines but it's nice to have someone who can sympathize with me.
Sensory processing disorder, maybe? Sensory issues aren't unique to autistics; if you have just the sensory issues, then SPD is probably as good a name for it as any.

Oddly enough, I also have met someone with migraines who has these same problems. I wonder if there is something about migraines that imitates the autistic sensory overload...
I do not know, but being an Aspie myself, I have had migraines. They are the worst. I basically have to wrap myself up tightly in blankets in a closet on the floor away from ANY noise or anything else. Every sensation hurts so bad. I wrap myself up because while napping (because migraines are exhausting) just the slightest brush on my skin will burn like very very very painfully. There might be a connection, but I don't know. Migraines act like an amplifying effect.
I'm a spectrumite and also have chronic migraines (currently controlled!). Mine were almost daily at their peak. I'm not usually too sensory overloaded, frankly because I'm an introvert to the point of hanging out in the basement online all day and, like you, know how best to dress myself to prevent sensory issues there, but spending time out grocery shopping or at work can quickly lead to overload for me. The start of a migraine can feel the same sort of way, to me, and my neurologists have said that it's not at all uncommon for migraineurs to have what, to me, sounds just like autistic sensory overload.

I find the migraine overloads worse, because it is rare that I can't escape a plain autistic overload by just leaving or otherwise fixing the problem. Migraines require medications and hoping they work.


autism and a schizoid personlaity structure

there are commonalities between autistic reactions to external stimulus and a person with a schizoid personality structure.

While autism is a biological etiology, schoizoid personality structure is more a product of nature and nurture.

Dont panic that when you google it it comes up as a personality disorder - there is a spectrum which range from healthy to psychotic. It is just a description oftendencies. Most of us sensitive types are in the healthy range.

Re: autism and a schizoid personlaity structure

I've actually studied schizoid personality disorder, and I think in many cases it is just an extreme version of introverted personality. What worries me somewhat about it is that doctors will diagnose it even when the person in question has no desire to socialize and is happy the way he is--a situation in which it does not cause distress and should not be a subject of psychological treatment. They do this because they automatically believe that schizoid personality is pathological because they can't imagine not wanting to interact much themselves...
Thanks for a wonderful post. I consider myself just barely on the spectrum, but over time, I'm coming to realize just how global, as you put it, my problems are. Some of them affect me socially, but most affect my daily life in ways that have nothing to do with other people.
Likewise here. While social issues are where I seem to have the most trouble (trying to resolve them was how I got diagnosed in the first place), I've certainly found other ways that it affects my life.

I'm also glad to know I'm not the only person with a rotating set of interests. Some are permanent, but others I'll tend to swing towards and away from over the years. Rather than the intense focus on a single subject some people have, I have moderate interest in a bunch of subjects that I'll poke around as opportunities present themselves.
What I noticed, reading the post, is that your profile is very much like mine, including the way interests come and go or come and stay. And being a stereotypical woman? Spare me! I suppose if I were much younger, I'd be thrown into the lion's den of testing and diagnosis just for that and my introversion and laborious attempts at social skills. Frankly, I'm glad to have missed all that.
"Rather than the intense focus on a single subject some people have, I have moderate interest in a bunch of subjects that I'll poke around as opportunities present themselves."

Me too. I suspect there's a gender component to this style of autism, and hope to be able to properly research it one day.

Autism, Social, NPR

This is the BEST autism blog. You are Christian. The particular religion doesn't matter to me. I see that I myself have little urge to socialize. I like to do so sometimes for a reason. It's just a project of mine. All I need is to live with the Holy Spirit and to serve God in whatever I do. While listening to your NPR talk, I saw that I live OUTSIDE the status system; that it wasn't about inclusion as much as status, and it is status that I have no interest in. I live to contribute and serve but my motivation is completely within, I don't need to take credit, I expect no reward other than the opportunity to serve.

You are just the most gentle and understanding autism blogger I have encountered. You seem to have so little hostility towards NT's. I would hope to do as well as you on that score. I am humbled.
Thanks so much for putting it like this.


Were you replying to me or to Resident Alien (Lisa)?


I enjoy reading your blog because I do find myself identifying with many of the descriptions and issues you make in it. This entry is no exception.

Though I am not autistic, I have a phrase, 'what's my motivation' that I have used since I was in jr. high to ask why should I do something based on the intagible emotional committment that is supposedly shared by family and/or friends. Or way something that I was intensely interested in one day or week or however long the interest lasts, is now completley gone.

I would go on, but I had a bad accident today on my bike and I am a bit worried about whether or not I should return to my Father's house or keep on living on my own.

NT versus AS

It seems I don't have many friends, but I tend to keep, forever, those I do. I LOVE people, I really do. I just seem to tick them off regularly.


extrovert versus introvert
emotional versus intelligent
left brain versus right brain
eloquent versus visionary
reactionary versus progressive
verbose versus contemplative
uninspired versus creative
conformist versus non-conformist
pragmatist versus idealist

The only reason why NT's "win" is because there are more of them (majority rules), and they are louder (might makes right).



The other side

I appreciate the clear way in which you have presented
the feelings experienced by someone with your level
of autism. I do wish though, that those located on the
high-functioning spectrum were perhaps able to empathize
with none spectrum people who surround them. My ex-husband
and I tried very hard to make our marriage work but in the end,
his autism won the battle and we separated. Often I was the one
who felt trapped as our world became increasingly autistic-friendly
and increasingly hostile to my higher stimuli need. We never went
to movies, concerts, or socialized. I made a constant stream of excuses to offended friends and family members. Intimacy was often too high of
a stimuli overload, even grocery shopping often occured at midnight when the 24 hour stores were at their least crowded. His idea of a great weekend was sitting in our apartment for 48 hours reading . In the end, I ended up being the person rocking back and forth . He had been diagnosed after our wedding and it was as if he stopped trying and
suddenly expected our world to revolve around his autism. We had spent years living a much more active life but he retreated into his shell as soon as the diagnosis proved what we had suspected. Even his therapist noticed it. I truly do understand the misreries which normal life can have upon Austistic minds but a non-spectrum individual is just
as normal living in an Autistic world. Those who are high functioning may need to consider meeting us halfway. I'm just as miserable with the choice of being stuck in an apartment for 48 hours or having a social life that does not include my favorite person Lin the world, as you are in
a crowded mall. System underload CAN be as painful as system overload.

Re: The other side

My spouse was miserable until she found a website and discovered I might be autistic (which I am). I had been telling her to go out and enjoy herself for ages whenever I noticed she was not enjoying herself like I could with my reading and video gaming and everything-that-is-not-social. But she wouldn't go saying it would be no fun without me.

This website about Autism and Marriage (between NTs and Aspies) basically told her I would never like going out, and to be happy that she would need a social circle outside of mine and that it was perfectly okay to have a social circle that didn't involve me.

Luckily, I can handle the occasional going-out with a movie or grocery shopping. Mostly it involves pretending to be completely alone (i.e. ignoring to the best of my ability everything around me) and requires a pre-made list.

I do not like going out of the house to crowded places, but for her I will as long as she understands I can't truly enjoy myself. She used to get upset that I can't enjoy being out and become unhappy with my reaction. It's been a struggle, but we have found our rhythm.

I am sorry to hear that it did not work out for you.

Re: The other side

I am Autistic, and I am actually the social one. My partner is less socially adventurous than I am. I am learning now what people are interested in me and which are just tolerating me. I like going out and doing things as long as we maintain our connection rather then me just being in attendance. I DO need about 15 hours of meditation time a week.

Re: The other side

It sounds like you just weren't compatible. Your then-husband was probably very relieved to essentially have permission to turn down all of the things that caused him undue stress and anxiety. What purpose does your comment serve except to assert your privilege and demand that the conversation be about catering to your needs?


Re: The other side

I wasn't trying to assert my side of the issue as a means creating negativity, I was simply attempting to point out that a relationship with between an autistic individual and a non-autistic individual does involve two people who are struggling to have their needs met: not just one person whose needs are being ignored by the majority of the world. I worked very hard to cater to Mike's needs and we are still very good friends, but I ended up losing a lot too. I did not mean to create conflict, I merely wanted to point out the other side. I didn't appreciate your tone which basically reduced the 10 years of my life which were spent in agonizing guilt over whether or not I should leave the person I love due to an illness (sickness and in health), when I DO feel that an effort could have been made. This was after a very long relationship had bloomed between us and he was my entire world. Your comment suggests that my issues aren't important, because I'm part of the majority but you are very wrong. Autism doesn't just cause issues for you, it causes issues for the people who know you and love you. We are suffering too, but in a different way. We know that we'll never receive love in our own love language because it's not often possible. I wanted to demonstrate this in my comment, mainly because I've never opened up about it before to anyone, and I thought that perhaps here I'd find a bit of sympathy. In a culture where everyone around me was married by age 22 and had their children by age 25, I was hoping to have a normal life. Instead I made the mistake to fall in love and give my heart and soul to the person I loved. It cost me everything.

Thanks for demonstrating a lack of caring, I hope this is what you receive.

Sincerely, the good little Christian girl who married the man she loved, waited to be intimate until marriage is now a 29 year old divorced and childless VIRGIN. All I ever wanted to be was a wife and mother.

Re: The other side

Wow. This is...wow.

I have so many problems with this, I don't even know where to begin. I'll start with reccomending you check out http://www.derailingfordummies.com/

It's not about you.

A few further points:

1. I don't suffer from autism. I suspect your ex-husband doesn't either. We may be autistic, but I don't really feel like I'm suffering. Some parts of it are certainly hard, but I expect that some parts of being NT are, too.

2. Again, it sounds like you were incompatible. You had incompatible goals, dreams, and ideas of what makes a good marriage. I can't help you feel less bad about the past--only you can do that.

3. Your insistence that autistic people cannot love or express love is so ridiculously bigoted I don't have words for it.

4. Don't care if you don't like my tone. I don't like it when privileged people demand that their needs and problems are more important than those without privilege. I don't have to be nice and sweet all the time, and I don't play nicely with those who try to silence others by demanding they only use nice language.

5. Why are you assuming that the fact that your ex-husband LIED to you about who he was and what he liked to do pre-diagnosis is based on autism? Sounds more like he was a liar and that was the problem. If he'd been up front about his introversion and homebody-ness, you might not have married him. That's not autism, that's LYING.

6. It's sort of shitty to hope someone is uncared for because I don't like you trying to make this into a big sobfest about how hard it was to be NT married to an autistic person (hint: there are lots of blogs about that already). But, for the record, almost seven years with my girlfriend, a great sex life, and we get along beautifully. I think it's because we were both, hmm, honest about what we wanted in a relationship and do our best to honour our promises. So that's pretty much what I'd reccomend.

Re: The other side

And the unfortuante truth is that most autism groups focus on the families of autistics far more than on the autistics themselves, especially adults on the spectrum. I've been doing a little looking into local groups to get involved with (ASAN doesn't have a chapter in my state), and I can't find one that seems to be aimed at me. There's a number of groups aimed at parents, or that provide services for children, but none that seem to be concerned with adult autistics. It's easier for a family member of an autistic to find support and sympathy than the autistic themself.

Re: The other side

Absolutely! And it's not even like this was a related post talking about the difficulties of maintaining a relationship with autistic--at least that would be tangentially related.

I find the overwhelming arrogance of people with NT privilege to be most upsetting sometimes.
Agreed. I wasn't diagnosed until I was an adult because I am female and it was interfering with what I wanted to do with myself. People would often attribute the words 'quirky', 'eccentric', and 'weird', but would hesitate to say autistic.

I love being around people in small groups. I love teaching kids. I just can't handle sensory over-stimulation like what you described. I wear ear plugs during an assembly because otherwise I sweat like crazy and am unable to focus on anything.

My spouse noticed how stressed I would get when routines were disrupted, how stressed I would get if something at work was constantly changing without discernible pattern. I also apparently stare at peoples' lips to understand the words coming from them in a noisy setting.

My mom never figured I was autistic for the same reason. I gave 'eye contact' and I played with my three brothers; personally I remember my brothers bothering me all the time and eventually got into the habit of bothering them first so they wouldn't bother me when I busy with something.

My mom did however think I was deaf for a time because of my propensity to stare at people's lips when they talked. I was diagnosed with auditory discrimination and was stuck in speech therapy for a long time when there was nothing physically wrong with me; for whatever reason I wasn't 'processing' the auditory stimulation correctly especially in crowds of people or noisy settings. The words would get all jumbled up in my head.

I am an extremely visual person, so everything I learned I had to format into some sort of visual aide/diagram/chart/pictures so I wouldn't get lost in the details of whatever it was I trying to understand. My teachers would tell me they were amused because I would ask questions that didn't seem relevant to the topic at hand, but would be loosely associated to the topic.

Luckily for me, this was the time of 'twice exceptional' students. Some genius figured out that children could be incredibly bright and disabled. So I was labeled 'gifted' but had to go to speech therapy.

In terms of social interactions, the only thing that I can miss is facial clues. It's been quite the arduous task of memorizing body language and expression, but it's worth it since it helps me to connect with NT kids so much better. By teaching, I reveal to them a way of thinking about or seeing the world they haven't encountered before.

Anyway, point is is that I am mildly affected with Asperger's and it has very little to do with social interaction and everything to do with my perceptions.

Your Comment

I really appreciate your comment. I am a sociable guy with Autism and I can see myself in you. It is nice to experience others like me - autistic but loves people.
Yeah, I'm pretty sociable too because I find people fascinating, but it can be very draining when there's too much going on. :)


Wow, Wow, and Wow

Thank you so much for this. I connected to your blog via another writer and I can't thank her, or you, enough.
I have two young daughters with ASD and it is so hard to know where they are coming from. It is only through the words of women like you, who have lived the life, that I am better able to understand my girls.
This could very well be the best explanation of ASD I have ever encountered. I really look forward to reading through all of your archives. Thanks again!


Re: Wow, Wow, and Wow

I am jealous that you have this understanding. I was a Mother trying to teach/change for decades. Now I can be understanding, accepting, not taking offense at the lack of emotional response to me/family and happy being a support/resource for my wonderfully kind daughter.


That was brilliant! Much of my experience is similar to yours, but I never could have put it into words so clearly.

I am undiagnosed but convinced I am on the spectrum. Because I have learned to function socially for relatively short periods of time, people see me as NT. So much of my experience has nothing to do with socializing, but for myself and my diagnosed son, dealing with our other sensory and processing issues directly affects our ability to interact effectively with others.

With my diagnosed son, he is only really able to make eye contact when he's feeling especially relaxed and comfortable in terms of sensory input and mental processing, and it's amazing to see the the change in him when he reaches that state. I've learned to sort of fake eye contact regardless of how I'm feeling, unless I'm under extreme stress, but I catch myself looking elsewhere when I get caught up in a conversation, and I wonder if people notice. It's not natural to me to focus on your face and your words or even mine at the same time.

Thank you for sharing your insight.


Funny, I was just thinking about this the other day: my son was just diagnosed with Aspergers, and I've been learning everything I can. More than likely, I also have Aspergers or some form of autism. I am also bipolar.

I am doing just fine - so much so that I realize that I'd no longer qualify as having bipolar disorder or autism, or to get services for either. While I don't need the services right now, to some degree it's frustrating. I put in a huge amount of effort I put in each day in maintaining calm and watching carefully for triggers, and making sure I respond well to them. If I lose that vigilance, I'm going to have to struggle for services all over again from the beginning.

Beyond that, the idea that a diagnosis just goes away when the symptoms disappear doesn't exactly make all my hard work feel validated. Grr.


hi I am back that is so right. Me being a autistic teen! your right but i do not have any sensory problems but still! I am doing great in home school! Nt's need to stop looking at the social aspect of autism and look at the learning aspected of autism!



I have an autistic four year-old daughter, but I do not look at her autism as a social disorder. I understand that autism is not just the social aspect, but all of the various sensory issues. However I realize that someday she will meet the world of NT's head on and I will not be able to protect her. She will need social and verbal skills to secure a job, explain to a doctor where it hurts, shop for groceries, etc. This will all take place in a world that is sadly insensitive to people with differences of any kind. Socialization is more preparing a child with autism for a world that does and may never understand them.
That being said, I live with and understand that my daughter will always have to do things in a different way. She learns differently. However, she is going to need a basic social skill set to make her way through a world that is unkind and selfish. Social skills are just a small part of what her teachers and I are doing to prepare her for the "real" world.