Citing an article featured on BBC News on December 14, 2009, there has been a recent study of self awareness in relation to autism by the University of Cambridge.
As any parent or person who works with children with autism is aware, social awareness, appropriate responses and behavior are common issues. Simply put, people with autism have trouble relating to others socially because they have trouble thinking about and making sense of themselves first. An essential part of relating to others in social situations is being able to read facial expressions and determine their feelings based on their words and tone of voice - in other words, relate, then notice the similarities or differences. However, people with autism have difficulties with these skills.
Another part of the study stated that the brains of people with autism are less active when engaged in self reflective thought. It shows that they struggle with processing information about themselves, and navigating social situations requires keeping track of relationships between oneself and others.
This is certainly a breakthrough in understanding how to better help people with autism with their social integration.