Autism and narcissism both share traits that make the person with either disorder place their focus on themselves. However, these two disorders couldn’t really be much further apart in their differences.
Narcissism is a personality disorder that causes the person with the disorder to be negligent of other’s concerns or feelings in lieu of their own. The narcissistic personality presents a front that presents the personality as someone who thinks they are always right and that the world pretty much revolves around them. People who have autism may also seem to present this front at times, only for them it’s based on something completely different.
The presence of narcissism indicates that the personality is actually filled with a very deep self loathing. The purpose of the narcissistic front is to prevent anyone else from seeing the seemingly deeply ingrained flaws. It’s kind of a way of forcing people to look at the person in a certain light so that they can never see anything but that light. The entire aim of narcissism is to prevent the surfacing of the traits that the personality is so disgusted with that they need to completely bury and avoid looking at on their own, much less exposing them to society. In other words, narcissism exists in those that have a deep sense of self loathing that they may be unwilling to admit to and certainly unwilling to share with the world.
Autism is the complete opposite. While narcissism causes the personality to hide flaws so as not to be revealed to self or society, the person who has autism lacks the ability to go to such lengths to please society. In fact, part of the traits of autism include the inability to adhere to some social protocol and the finer points of inflections. The fact is that while narcissism would not be so effective without society, most of the pains of autism come from the social rules that those with autism have so many problems adapting to.
Autism does cause the personality to focus on themselves. It’s not because of self loathing and it’s not because of enormous egos. In fact, in many ways, autism would not be as painful as it is without the impact of society and the efforts of those with autism to meet with some kind of societal approval which is normally founded in the need for the person with autism to meet societal goals in order to please a loved one.
Do people with autism crave acceptance? Certainly. But, like anyone else, they want to be accepted as they are, something society has a difficult time getting a grasp of. Those with autism seem to know their limits as well as their flaws without feeling the need to cover that up unless prompted by an outside source.
While the narcissistic personality does not respond to needs of others when those needs are presented in indirect social mannerisms such as facial expression, the lack of response is due to the preoccupation with self. When someone with autism does not respond to the needs of others when those needs are presented in indirect social mannerisms such as facial expressions, it’s because they don’t recognize what those facial expressions mean. Also, those with autism might recognize the need, but realize that they cannot fix the problem and so in a way, they make the leap to go past the problem, seeing no feasible other options.