By Michael Rock:

It is no secret that many people with autism struggle with social communication. Still, it is becoming quite clear that there are ways to reduce or eliminate their challenges.

A recent study on mice at Johns Hopkins University found that MDMA, the pure form of ecstasy or molly, improved their social learning ability. The researchers are considering whether the substance may help supplement behavior therapies for adults with autism if it can have similar effects on them as in the mice.  

In addition, the state of Connecticut has begun distributing blue envelopes to drivers with autism. These envelopes indicate the driver’s condition, and can be given to a police officer during a stop with their license, registration, and insurance placed inside. They also have clear instructions for the driver to prepare for and get through such a police stop socially and emotionally.

For children with autism, a study from the University of Central Florida found benefits to practicing judo. In particular, the martial art’s emphasis on socialization, mindfulness, coordination, balance, varying degrees of intensity in workouts, and the use of repetition to master a technique seemed well-suited to many of the challenges common to children with autism. The study concluded that it not only helps boost social skills, but also confidence, and physical activity.

Perhaps most interesting, however, is a growing body of evidence suggesting that people with neurotypical people struggle with understanding people with autism as much as the reverse has been discussed. In fact, some research has found that people with autism have an easier time socializing among each other than neurotypicals do among one another.

As we learn more and more about the ways that people with autism learn socially, not only should new ways to improve this key aspect of their communicative ability be an asset in a neurotypical world, but we also now know that neurotypicals can better learn how to understand and interact with them as well.

Michael Rock is a New York City-based reporter and self-advocate with autism. A graduate of Brandeis University, his work has appeared in Kings County Politics, Chelsea Now, Our Town, Queens County Politics, and WhoWhatWhy.