Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder, in other words it is a disorder that affects the mind. This disorder often comes to notice within the first few years of infancy. The most common defining characteristic of autism is a lack of social awareness and social skills. Many people with autism have difficulties relating to others and carrying on a conversation. Others are nonverbal and can't speak at all. There are also some behaviors associated with autism that may be considered awkward such as hand-flapping and repetition of certain words or phrases.
Having autism can be challenging. People may not accept you for who you are. You may have difficulty making friends, talking to the opposite sex, and experience loneliness. If you are mild to high-functioning individual with autism, with enough introspection and perseverance you can overcome certain or all aspects of your autism.
Ask the input of others as to what you can improve on. Take notes. The observations of others will give you an idea as to what autism-related characteristics you need to work on overcoming.
Read books on autism. Books on autism can help give you an insight into who you are and help you realize what defines you from others who do not have autism. Two good memoirs written by people with autism are "Emergence: Labeled Autistic" by Temple Grandin and "Look Me in the Eye" by John Elder Robison. "Understanding Autism for Dummies" despite the intrusive title is an excellent resource for explaining autism. The book is written by Stephen Shore and Linda Rastelli. A final book of recommendation is "Autistics' Guide to Dating: A Book By Autistics, For Autistics and Those Who Love Them or Who Are in Love with Them." This is an excellent resource for those who are on the spectrum and have difficulties approaching those of the opposite sex.
Set goals for yourself and write them down. Decide what aspects of your autism that you are going to overcome. Visualize yourself daily achieving your goals. If you have very few friends and want a larger circle of friends visualize yourself making friends. If you are shy when it comes to approaching people of the opposite sex, visualize yourself approaching someone of the other gender. Visualize asking for their number and finally going out on a date. Visualize the date being successful and one day getting married. Visualize success everyday.
Keep a daily journal. Examine yourself in your journal. Make note of autistic-like behaviors. Write about any progress that you may have made in the day, even if progress was going up to someone you were afraid to approach and saying "hi" to them.
Take a course in basic psychology or read up on psychology books. Psychology can give you insights into how other people think and what makes them tick. This will help dissect people's actions for you and make it easier to understand people.
Take speech courses. A course in public speaking can help you overcome speech related hurdles related to autism. An interpersonal communications course will help you learn what is and isn't appropriate for engaging others in conversation. Both public speaking and interpersonal speech courses can help you achieve your goals of overcoming autism. Most community colleges offer both courses.
Take courses in acting and/or improv. Acting acts as a bridge to real socializing. You are given a script to act out with other actors. Acting can in many ways can help lead to actual unscripted socializing. On HBO, a documentary titled "Autism: The Musical" aired which was about a play that was put on with children with autism. During the course of this play, the children develop further and overcome some of their attributes relating to autism. "Autism: The Musical" can be found on amazon.com or can be rented from Netflix. The company that produce "Autism: The Musical" is called "The Miracle Project" and they run a play camp that is exactly what is witnessed in the film "Autism: The Musical."
Join a social skills group or autism support group. These groups can help you work on the skills that you need to be successful in life and will help you gain further insight into your life. You may also find like-mind people and make new friends.
Write down whenever you have the urge to flap your hands or do a behavior that you recognize as what others have noted to you as being odd. By writing down your intention to do the behavior, you may stop yourself from doing it in the first place. Try your best to control behaviors that others may see as awkward. This is not an easy task, but with time you can overcome behaviors that define you.