Autistics, cluelessly awkward people, and jerks

Some people are socially awkward because they don’t know the rules. Those people can learn the rules and not be awkward anymore. That is a different problem than autism.

Being autistic means that, no matter how much you understand, you will not be able to follow all of the rules. There will be some rules you won’t ever be physically capable of following. And some rules you will be capable of following, but with a heavy cost not faced by nonautistic people. And sometimes your abilities will fluctuate. That is a different problem than being awkward out of ignorance.

It’s also a different problem than being a jerk. Some people are jerks who don’t much care about being good to others. This is a different problem than not knowing the rules, and it’s a different problem than being physically incapable of following the rules.

Some people are kind of unintentional jerks because they don’t understand much about *how* to be good to others.┬áThis is a different problem from not caring about others. It’s also a different problem from not understanding the rules, or being unable to follow the rules. Treating people well is a learned set of skills. It’s not the same as social conformity or appearing normal.

Autistic people can be considerate of others. Autistic people can treat others well. This does not depend on following all of the rules all of the time. Following the rules is one tool people can use to be considerate of others. It is not the only tool.

Being autistic means that being considerate of other people will look different for you than most other people. It doesn’t mean that your neurology dooms you to be a jerk. It just means that you have to learn to treat others well in a way that works with rather than against who you are.