...where everyone feels comfortable interacting with autistic people?
I live in San Francisco city and often take the public transit. Lately, on three different occasions, I noticed strange interactions (or, rather lack of) with autistic people. The moment an autistic person boarded the Muni (San Francisco's public transit), passengers stared at him or her and then uncomfortably looked away.
About three weeks back, a 45 year old man boarded the Muni, along with his 20+ year old friend, who was clearly Autistic. Everyone stared at him for a minute and then ignored him. I usually smile at people when I make an eye contact. And, usually, when you smile at someone, you get a nod, or a smile. Sometimes, you can initiate a conversation. In this case, my usual approach was not optimal since my smile was not acknowledged.
Throughout the Muni journey, I wondered how to engage in a conversation with the 20+ year old. Also, the experience made me wonder whether there is an opportunity to design a space, or a space within our usual spaces (cars, buses, trains, etc), where socializing with autistic people can be made easier for everyone involved in the process?