A Canadian researcher says that many autistic people have qualities and abilities that may exceed those of people who do not have the condition.
By seeing autism's differences as defects, researchers may fail to fully understand the condition, said Dr. Laurent Mottron, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Montreal.
"Recent data and my own personal experience suggest it's time to start thinking of autism as an advantage in some spheres, not a cross to bear," Mottron said.
Mottron's research team has strongly established and replicated the abilities and sometimes superiorities of autistics in multiple cognitive operations such as perception and reasoning, as have others.
In one test by Mottron, which involved completing a visual pattern, people with autism finished 40 per cent faster than those without the condition.
He said unusual activity in autistic people's brains should be seen as "evidence simply of their alternative, yet sometimes successful, brain organisation."
Dr Mottron said he did not want to underplay the challenges of autism, adding: "One out of 10 autistics cannot speak, nine out of 10 have no regular job and four out of five autistic adults are still dependent on their parents."
But people with autism can make significant contributions to society in the right environment, he said.
Laurent Mottron's article claims that science should do its part to bring back autistics as members of the human community.
The study was recently published in the journal Nature.