Socialization is among the hardest of tasks for individuals with autism, but now those with the developmental disorder are the very people helping scientists understand exactly how complex the process of interacting with others really is.

It took the experiences of those with autism to help researchers understand that skills like eye contact, understanding facial expressions and trickier concepts such as empathy don’t come naturally to everyone. Rather, people with autism must consciously learn about social taboos, personal space and using expressions to respond to others. Conversely, most typically developing children pick up on these skills at young ages.

The innate difference is clear to Lisa Daxer, a 27-year-old on the spectrum. She says neurotypicals have a natural tendency to socialize that serves as a sort of default state. Daxer has observed friends mimic facial expressions they see characters on television displaying or spontaneously come together to help each other without needing to talk about it, interactions that are not natural for her.

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By consciously identifying taboo topics like death or sex and working to establish relationships, Daxer says she’s learned to blend. Nonetheless, having autism is who she is and she doesn’t want that to change, reports NPR. To read more click here.

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