In New Zealand, the judges and the contestants are of an altogether kinder and altruistic type . (And dare I say it, the acts are far more varied, imaginative, clever and downright BETTER! The judges wear their hearts on their sleeves and even take a part in the performance- like showing off hula hoop prowess, making some yo-yo moves etc. The contestants don't whine and moan about how this means so much to them and they produce better performances as a result. There is a real feel-good factor going on in New Zealand venues which is almost entirely absent in the American ones.
Why is this? I assume it is partly because of the huge population in the USA, as opposed to tiny NZ. In the USA , people feel more competitive but they have also swallowed all this brain-washing about "If I want it hard enough, I can have it"... "I have to talk myself up so that people will be impressed" and so on. As they say, "talk is cheap". Most of our folk are pretty modest. They put their energy and focus into turning in a good performance, and appreciate what their fellow competitors do as well.
A recent American visitor to our shores said that, in the development of our cultures, the emphasis in USA has been on the freedom of the individual to do things, whereas in NZ the emphasis has been on fairness and equality of all people. A subtle difference, but a very important one. One tangible consequence will illustrate this- in the USA, good health care is not a given for all people. In New Zealand it is. We have an excellent system of Public Hospitals as well as subsidised medical care for the very young and those over 65.
Unfortunately, where care and support of people on the Autism Spectrum is concerned, both countries are well behind what you would expect in developed countries. The feedback I receive from people in the USA is that it is very difficult for people with ASC to be accepted and understood in society. Many people still don't realise that autism is not cureable and give money to "Autism Speaks" so that something will be done. I have even read of people in churches trying to keep out autistics because they fear it "might be catching"!
In New Zealand, the general public is learning more and is more open-minded about ASC but our Government has not caught up. ASC in adults is poorly understood (or not at all) by people in a position to affect our lives (for example, controlling state benefits to us), and many schools lack the understanding and motivation to help the AS child. Bullying is an issue which appears to be still running rife in far too many schools.
ASC falls between Mental Health and Intellectual Disability in terms of responsibility in providing support and services for adults, and this causes some diabolical situations for individuals. It is somewhat difficult for adult Aspies to form and maintain a coherent and driving representative organisation because emotional stamina is one of our "weaknesses", but we will do our best to advocate for ourselves and trust we will be supported by sympathetic neuro-typicals as well as other people on the Spectrum. More news will follow!