Autism is a complex condition that affects 2% of children, and the number of diagnoses is increasing. Many people have heard about autism and may also have heard some myths about it. This article will clear up some common misconceptions about autism so you can learn how to help a person with ASD (autism spectrum disorder).
Myth 1: Autism is a disease
Autism is not a disease. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder, which means it affects a person’s brain and nervous system. As such, it is not contagious. It is also not a mental illness or something you can catch from someone else; however, people with autism may have an increased risk of developing certain types of mental illnesses later in life (for example: depression or anxiety).
In addition to being non-contagious, autism has no cure and cannot be prevented by vaccines or drugs.
Myth 2: Vaccines cause autism
There is no evidence that vaccines cause autism, and the study that started the vaccine scare has been debunked. The study was based on a small sample size and did not involve peer review; it was retracted by its author in 2010 after being exposed as fraudulent by other scientists who conducted independent research into its findings.
Myth 3: Autism is rare
There is a wide misconception that autism is rare, but the statistics disprove this myth. For instance:
- 1 in 68 children have autism.
- 1 in 42 men and 1 in 189 women have autism.
- 1 in 45 children have autism and 1 in 54 have ASD.
1 in 70 boys have ASD, but only about 10 percent of these boys will go on to develop an intellectual disability that includes symptoms like low IQ or language delays. Some researchers think this may be due to differences between males and females in how their brains are wired at birth; others suspect it has more to do with a genetic predisposition for certain disorders, including mental illness such as depression or schizophrenia, while others still think environmental factors play a role—like pesticides or heavy metals—that can cause changes over time which then allow these problems to manifest themselves later when they may be no longer treated properly by doctors who don't know better (or maybe even care) because they haven't been trained properly.
Myth 4: Autistic people can't show emotions
Autism is often viewed as a disorder that impairs a person's ability to express emotion, but this isn't true. Some people with autism have trouble understanding social cues and facial expressions, which can make it difficult for them to understand what others are feeling or how they should act in certain situations. However, most autistic people are able to show emotions —it's just that they may not do so in the same way as non-autistic people might.
Many autistic people also struggle with body language like smiling or frowning because they don't understand why they should do these things (or why anyone else would expect them). For example, if someone tells you "I love you" and then puts their hand on your shoulder while smiling at no one in particular (or even looking directly into your eyes), this could be interpreted by an autistic person who doesn't know any better as “creepy” behavior rather than an expression of love!
Myth 5: Bad parenting causes autism
You’re probably wondering: Is it possible that parents are to blame for the cause of autism? The answer is no. It’s not your fault that your child has autism, and it's not your fault if they have severe symptoms. There are many reasons why a child might develop autism or develop any other disorder. Some of them include genetics, age at conception, exposure to toxins during pregnancy (such as mercury), medications taken during pregnancy, or birth complications like Cesarean section delivery or premature birth and many more. Nonetheless, parenting has nothing to do with it.
Myth 6: Autistic people are violent, dangerous, and unpredictable
While the stereotype of autism as a violent condition is common, it's not accurate.
Autistic people are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators and less likely to be violent than non-autistic people. In fact, approximately 40% of all autistic people will have experienced some form of violence during their lifetime due to being on the receiving end of bullying at school or work—a rate higher than among those without autism. But this doesn't mean that all autistics are violent; it simply means they're more likely than others in society to experience violence at some point in their lives because they tend to be introverted and have lower self-esteem (which makes them more vulnerable).
Myth 7: Autistic people cannot learn
Learning is a struggle for autistic people, but it’s not impossible.
Autistic people can learn just like everyone else. It takes more effort and time, but they are capable of learning in their own way. Autistic people will often find ways to express themselves through art or music that might not be obvious to others around them.
While some autistic children may have difficulty communicating with others and understanding social cues, this does not mean that they cannot interact effectively with other people or succeed academically if given the proper support system (such as teachers who are knowledgeable about autism).
We know way less about autism than we should
You may have heard the phrase "autism is a spectrum." This is true, but it doesn't tell the whole story. There are many types of autism, and they can't be grouped together based on some vague idea of what an autistic person should look or act like.
Autism isn't a disease; it's an umbrella term for any kind of developmental disorder that affects how people communicate with others (and themselves). As such, there's no one way to be autistic—you could be someone who has never spoken before or had a first word at age four; you could have trouble reading facial expressions or understanding body language; and so on. Some people with autism catch up quickly and easily and learn new skills as adults; others struggle throughout their lives because they didn't receive proper support when growing up.
We know way less about autism than we should. There is so much that we still need to learn and understand, but this list will hopefully help you understand those living with autism better. The goal here is not just to debunk myths about autism, but also to give you more tools for talking about the condition in an open and positive way.