When you hear the word ‘Autism’ what do you think of? 

Worldwide, 1 in 160 children has an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and sadly are still often subject to stigma, discrimination and misunderstanding.  

To try and raise awareness and tackle some of the common misconceptions, ‘National Autism Awareness Month’ is celebrated every April.  

Here at IQBar, we’d like to address some of the myths about autism spectrum disorders.   

Myth 1  Autism  

The first big myth is the word “autism” itself. There is really no such thing as autism. Autism is a spectrum. This means everybody with autism is different and each person with it is an individual with their own strengths and weaknesses. They may be diagnosed with an ASD but that will be very different to another person with ASD. Some people now prefer to use terms like “neurodiverse” to celebrate these differences. 

Myth 2 – ASDs are only prevalent in some cultures 

Autism occurs worldwide, there are just different perceptions and levels of awareness. The first diagnosis of autism was made 1943 in the USA. Since then, global nations have diagnosed at different rates. For example, in China, a diagnosis wasn’t made until 1982 and the society there is only just becoming increasingly aware. 

Myth 3 – they only affect boys  

The statistics do show that boys are more likely to be diagnosed, however there is growing awareness of how girls with autism may just be better at masking their difficulties, leading to their ASD being missed.  

Myth 4  ASDs are just behavioural conditions caused by bad parenting 

This theory was prevalent in the 1950s where an idea called the “refrigerator mother hypothesis” arose that suggested it was caused by emotionally cold mothers. However, this was disproved a long time ago. The causes of the condition are complex but are more likely to have a genetic element.  

Myth 5 – Childhood vaccines cause ASDs 

There is no evidence to suggest that any vaccine increases the risk of ASD. Extensive research has been conducted, showing that previous studies suggesting a causal link were found to be filled with massive flaws.  

Myth 6  Children grow out of their ASD as they mature  

There may be different behaviours that occur at different life stages however children with an ASD will become an adult with an ASD, they are a lifelong condition. However, there are different approaches such as communication-based, behavioural and educational ones that can be used to support people with an ASD.  

Myth 7 – People with an ASD are all like the guy in Rain Man 

No…again there are a spectrum of disorders. Knowing one person with autism means just that – knowing one person with autism. Everyone with it is different! 

Myth 8 – People with an ASD will avoid eye contact 

Some people with an ASD may struggle with some aspects of communication including eye contact. However, like myth 7, there are huge differences between people and no two people with an ASD are the same.  

Myth 9 – People with an ASD never have friends 

Socialising can be challenging for many people with an ASD. However, risking the danger of repeating the response to myth 7…people with an ASD are all different. Some may prefer their own company, whereas others may enjoy joining in with social groups where the members have similar interests.  

Myth 10 – Adults with an ASD can’t function in relationships or jobs 

Again, repeating myth 7’s response, people are all different. There are many people with an ASD who have very successful relationships and go on to be parents themselves. Many adults with an ASD have successful careers too and workplaces are becoming increasingly understanding about the issues people may face.  

Resources 

If you’d like to know more about ASDs and read some stories from people who are on the spectrum then this is a great resource: https://www.autism.org.uk/about/stories.aspx 

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