When it comes to conditions like autism, myths and misconceptions can be extremely harmful. Unfortunately, autism is also such a complex condition that we’re only just beginning to scratch the surface, in terms of our understanding of it. Which is precisely why myths and misconceptions are as rife as they are – most simply aren’t up to speed on autism to the extent they believe they are.
Of course, awareness of autism and its symptoms is prompting more parents than ever before to seek autism assessments where necessary. Nevertheless, those who are not dealing with autism directly in one way or another are prone to falling foul of any number of untruths.
Here’s a brief overview of a few examples to illustrate the extent of the problem:
Myth: People with autism aren’t interested in making friends
First of all, this highly widespread myth stems from the fact that many people with autism struggle when it comes to social situations. They can often find it difficult to interact with other people, which is why they have the potential to come across as unfriendly or antisocial. Nevertheless, this does not mean for one moment that they do not crave, appreciate and indeed need friendship just like everyone else. To assume that an individual with autism simply isn’t interested in making friends is to entirely misread the reality of things.
Myth: Autistic individuals also have intellectual disabilities
While it’s true to say that autism can indeed be accompanied by other intellectual disabilities, this doesn’t necessarily mean that every person with autism is intellectually disabled. Many artistic individuals excel in a wide variety of academic and artistic pursuits, with IQ tests having shown a lot of people with autism to be far above average intelligence. It is simply assumed that as they are often not able to communicate and integrate with others that they must have intellectual issues, which is absolutely not the case at all.
Myth: Autistic people neither express nor feel emotions
Once again, it’s the fact that autistic people communicate differently with others that leads to the presumption that they cannot feel or express emotions. In reality however, autistic people experience exactly the same kinds of emotions as everyone else – they are simply displayed and communicated in different ways. For obvious reasons, it can be particularly harmful to make this kind of presumption without in any way understanding the truth behind it.
Myth: Most people with autism will simply ‘grow out of it’ over time
These days, approaches to treating and assisting those with autism are extremely advanced and have the potential to transform lives. Which is precisely why those diagnosed with autism at a young age often go on to lead full, active and happy adult lives, opening up and progressing much more than they may have as children. Consequently, this can often lead to the misled assumption that many of those with autism as children simply grow out of the condition over time. In reality however, autism often tends to be a lifelong condition – albeit one that can be treated, controlled and managed in most instances.
Myth: Autism is for life every time
While it somewhat contradicts the previous entry, it is in fact perfectly possible for individuals diagnosed with autism as children to effectively be ‘cured’ of the condition in later life. While there is no such thing as a cure as such for autism, there have been many instances where tests carried out on adults once diagnosed with autism indicate that they no longer display the signs or symptoms that would qualify for an autism diagnosis. Which in turn means that while there may be no silver-bullet cure for autism, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a condition for life.
Myth: The way a child is brought up can influence autism risk
Last but not least, while there have been a great many unfounded theories over the years with regard to what can and cannot increase the risk of childhood autism, parenting techniques and the like have been removed from the equation. What we know today is that autism is very difficult to predict at the best of times and has the potential to affect just about anyone for no specific reason. Even today, the root causes of autism remain a mystery – as does the solution by way of a cure or effective preventative measure.