Without a doubt, autism is a puzzling phenomenon that our understanding of continues to evolve. With more knowledge and understanding however, comes plenty of questions and interpretations that may have some parents feeling led astray. In other words, the more facts and research we have available to us on the subject of autism, the more misconstrued information, myths and misconceptions arise with it. In this post, we’ll break down 5 of the most common myths and misconceptions about autism and their respective truths.
1. Autism is Caused by Vaccinations
Perhaps the most harmful myth about autism today is the myth that vaccinating infants and young children causes or heightens the risk of a child developing an autism spectrum disorder. Originating from a 1998 article in the medical journal, The Lancet, a case study by Andrew Wakefield ascertained that children who were vaccinated lost cognitive and developmental abilities they had previously learned. Study after study have proven this myth busted and the CDC compiled the evidence on their website that demonstrates that there is no link between vaccines and autism. The case study has since been retracted, and wakefield stripped of his medical license, but unfortunately, the “anti-vax” movement remains intact.
2. People on the Autism Spectrum Don’t Feel or Express Emotion
Another harmful misconception, the idea that people on the spectrum don’t feel or express emotions is a false generalization. What is true is that many people on the spectrum, especially those who display antisocial symptoms, tend to express their emotions in very different ways than their neurotypical peers. Many people on the spectrum who are non-verbal for example, may air their feelings through sign language or other verbal communication techniques. Additionally, those who have challenges in social situations may be more reserved or private about what they’re feeling.
3. Autism Only Affects Children
Though much of the information and services available about autism are geared toward children on the spectrum, autism isn’t something that only affects children. Once diagnosed, an individual on the spectrum will carry that diagnosis for life, and many people don’t get diagnosed until they’re adults. The emphasis on early intervention and continued therapy however, is meant to help the individual develop and cope with their symptoms to a point where they live and function at a highly-independent level as adults. Though their symptoms may not be public facing or obvious, they may still be there.
4. People with Autism are Intellectually Disabled
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder, meaning it effects brain development and has a variety of potential symptoms. This does not however, guarantee that someone with autism will be intellectually disabled. In fact, many children on the spectrum tend to have normal or even higher IQs than their neurotypical peers. Though they may act, communicate and do things a bit differently, we should never underestimate the intelligence and potential of someone on the spectrum.
5. People on the Autism Spectrum are all the Same
There is a famous quote by Dr. Stephen Shore, an autism advocate, professor and researcher that perfectly sums up the truth about people on the spectrum. “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” That is to say, that the idea that all people on the spectrum are the same or demonstrate the same qualities, is a myth. The autism spectrum is far-reaching and captures several diagnoses that all affect individuals in different ways. This is important because it demonstrates that individuals on the spectrum should be treated as individuals.
These are just a few of the most common misconceptions about autism. For more information and autism-related news, be sure to keep up with us on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and feel free to reach out via our contact page to learn more about our services.