The Most Common Myths About Autism Spectrum Disorder
The Most Common Myths About
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Author, 1st Choice Family Services
Most everyone wants to communicate with at least one person who can understand how he or she feels. Who doesn’t…. right?
And in communities all over the world, there is a wonderful group of people who would also appreciate that same kind of understanding – those who have autism spectrum disorder.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that occurs on a spectrum. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, ASD is characterized by 1) deficits in social communication and interaction across contexts, and 2) restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
However, not all people with ASD have the same level of impairment. The impact of ASD on their daily living is highly dependent on the severity of the condition.
Perhaps, you know someone with ASD, and you have been thinking how people with ASD live their lives in bliss and hope. To better understand their condition, here are some myths about ASD and the truth behind each myth:
Myth 1: People with autism are anti-social
Although social interaction is impaired in people with ASD, this does not mean they cannot form relationships with others.
Some studies say that people with ASD have challenges with social interaction, however, it does not mean that they are totally incapable of forming relationships with people. As a matter of fact, individuals with ASD can and do have fulfilling relationships with family, friends, spouses and children. They can also be gentle in interacting with people they just met.
This notion that people with ASD prefer to be socially isolated most of the time is not 100 percent accurate. Recent studies have demonstrated that most people with ASD want to form relationships with others (Brownlow, Rosqvist, & O’Dell, 2015). Though this is the case, there will be times that it will be difficult for them to navigate social relationships, but one thing we need to keep in mind is that they want to, are willing to and are trying to form a long lasting relationship. Thus, it is important for people without ASD to understand the perspective of their relatives, friends, or neighbors with ASD.
The misconception of them not wanting to build relationships originated with their sometimes blunt character and the inability to sugarcoat their thoughts in a way that is expected in a typical social situation, in which others find offending.
As long as individuals without ASD are sensitive to such differences, genuine and long-lasting social relationships are possible between individuals with and without ASD.
Myth 2: People with autism are impassive
People with autism are not numb or emotionally iced. People often misunderstand this about ASD, but the truth is, they communicate their emotions, and even perceive the emotions of others in different ways.
When it comes to the ability of understanding the emotions of other people, people with autism might not be able to detect unspoken interpersonal communication like one’s body language or sarcasm in one’s tone of voice. We cannot expect them to feel our tiny gestures, but if these emotions will be communicated directly, people with ASD will feel our genuine intent to reach out.
Autistic people can sometimes be overly enthusiastic, but they can also be blunt at times. They can even empathize when someone feels down. Regardless of what they are feeling, it just proves to say that they also get affected by what is happening around them.
Myth 3: People with autism are cognitively incapable
Oftentimes, autism brings with it just as many exceptional abilities as challenges. Many people with autism have normal to high IQs and some may excel at math, music or another pursuit.
On the other hand, not all people with autism have the same level of intellect or abilities. There are those with really impressive cognitive capabilities, but there are also some who need time to learn and develop skills. Can they learn? They absolutely can! Once the rest of us learn to teach them. The population in this category will improve with therapy, but it has to be effective therapy that is fitted for a specific individual. Things can be easier and lives can improve, slowly and steadily, as long as family, friends, teachers, therapists are persistent and use an effective method of teaching.
Myth 4: People who display qualities that may be typical of a person with autism are just odd and will grow out of it.
Children with autism grow up to become adults with autism, and, for many individuals, it is a lifelong condition.
There must be a pool of reasons people came up with the beliefs about how autism was developed. Some reasons rumored about this are that it was due to bad parenting. Bad parenting really doesn’t help in any situation, but it surely is not the reason that autism develops. There is a lot of brain activity affected by parents not responding to their children as expected – such as anxiety, depression and stress, but autism is not one of them.
Another theory that others think causes autism is vaccination. There have been studies conducted to prove this claim but there is simply no scientific evidence to support this.
Autism stems from biological conditions that affect brain development.
Autism is complex and seems to be caused by many different combinations of genes and environmental influences.
“Research tells us that autism tends to run in families. Changes in certain genes increase the risk that a child will develop autism. If a parent carries one or more of these gene changes, they may get passed to a child (even if the parent does not have autism). Other times, these genetic changes arise spontaneously in an early embryo or the sperm and/or egg that combine to create the embryo. Again, the majority of these gene changes do not cause autism by themselves. They simply increase risk for the disorder.” (www.autismspeaks.org)
This lack of understanding can make it difficult for people on the autism spectrum to have their condition recognized and to access the support they need. More often than not, misconceptions can lead some people with autism feeling isolated and alone. In extreme cases, it can also lead to abuse and bullying.
Autism spectrum disorder comes with a whole host of myths and misconceptions. And many of these myths and misconceptions continue today.