Tackling a Few Myths About Autism

How can there still be so much misinformation about autism?  I understand that there is a lot of research going on, and there is still a lot that is unknown, but really?  Here are a few common misconceptions:

  • People with autism do not have empathy.

My son has empathy.  There have been times (like on my birthday a few years ago), where I thought he lacked a shred of it, but there have been times that he has comforted me when I was crying or upset, or just needed a hug.  In fact there are many who will say that people on the spectrum have too much empathy, and that is why they have to distance themselves from others, because they just feel too much.  I particularly like Diary of a Mom’s post on this subject.

  • People with autism are either really good at things or really bad at things.

I believed this one for awhile, too, thinking The Boy was just really, really smart.  At everything.  And he is extremely bright.  But you know what?  He doesn’t get math too well.  He has a great ear for music, is a wonderful speller, doesn’t like to read a whole bunch, although he can, and at a high level of comprehension.  But math is not his best subject.  I used to think it was because he didn’t like it, which is partly true.  Truth be told, he struggles with it, and I’m not sure I can say it’s just because he’d rather be playing video games.  But he doesn’t fail math either.  In fact, he usually gets Cs.

  • People with autism do not have good eye contact.

This is one of the reasons I was not so sure he was on the spectrum in the very early days.  In everything I had heard, this was the number one “sign your child may have autism” and it just didn’t bear true for The Boy.  He was a happy, giggly boy, and did not avoid eye contact as an infant, toddler, or small child.  It is more apparent now, but this is not a hard and fast rule for all children on the spectrum, by any means.

Happy, Giggly Eye Contact

  • People with autism may not have it forever.

This site, which attempts to address some myths about autism, actually has this listed as fact, rather than a myth!  This is basic stuff, here people.  There is no cure.  Autism is a neurological disorder, and you cannot “fix” a neurological disorder.  You can, with early intervention and therapy “retrain the brain” to function more typically, but autism is for keeps. And this “research that shows you may outgrow autism” consists of one study.  With fewer than 40 participants.  What’s really at work here is those early interventions and therapies allowing those with autism to be able to function more typically in society, rather than not having autism anymore.  They just hide it better.  (Won’t it be a great day when our children don’t have to hide their true selves?)

What are some other myths you’ve encountered?

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2 thoughts on “Tackling a Few Myths About Autism

  1. About outgrowing autism, one does not really “outgrow” it. It’s more learning your triggers and how to work around it or, in some cases, use it to your advantage. As an autistic high school student, I can safely say that you don’t outgrow autism. If some people could, I wouldn’t want to.

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