Summary of key points
Understanding of the presentation of autism, especially in people who ‘mask’, has changed hugely over time.
Older generations were very clear about what autism ‘looked like’ and many of these views have now been discredited. An example of discredited views about difference might be how being left-handed was viewed in the past, and how much damage was caused by the awful practices associated with forcing people to use their right hands.
The definitions of autism in the past were also based upon ‘acting out’, and very ‘visible’ differences reinforced in film and TV. The formal diagnostic criteria have changed considerably in more recent times.
In the past, there was also a sense of ‘shame’ associated with being autistic or having an autistic family member.
Older generations may have been influenced by this, and a period of adjustment might be necessary. This can only come with education and awareness.