What's kindness got to do with it
"Not so long ago, these kids weren't expected to work anywhere or do anything. Most have trouble learning, completing tasks and engaging with other people socially... Amanda Fabio, then, is special. But so is the McDonald's in Medway, Mass., for its willingness to give her a chance."
Autistic workers are depicted as humble, hardworking peons who are so delighted to find a job within their limited mental capabilities that they are eternally grateful for the wonderful kindness of their employer in compassionately hiring them.
This stereotype doesn't reach the same level of blatant hate speech as when autistics are described as undesirable eccentrics, or as unstable sufferers prone to sudden acts of violence, or as potential serial killers. However, it is every bit as false, and it significantly increases discrimination against autistic applicants who seek anything other than low-level positions.
To put all of this into (relatively recent) historical perspective, the Asperger diagnosis did not exist 20 years ago. Almost all of us attended mainstream schools and were considered mentally healthy. Many of us earned college degrees. We got jobs, paid taxes, and were accepted as part of society, just like everyone else. It's only in the past decade that the Asperger stereotypes have spread like a toxic fungus all through our society, rewriting history with a vengeance, redefining millions of productive citizens worldwide as a tragic horde of misbegotten zombies.
Let's kick that garbage to the curb and get one thing clear: An autistic employee is not a cute little workplace mascot or a charity case. He or she is a rational human being who is exchanging labor for wages, like any other employee, and who is entitled to equal employment opportunity, reasonable accommodations (when necessary), and nondiscriminatory working conditions. That has nothing to do with kindness or compassion. It is, quite simply, a matter of basic human rights in a civilized society.
Apparently McDonald's understands that. It's unfortunate that there are so many employers and journalists who do not.