Autism Acceptance Month: Myths About Autism
April is Autism Awareness month, but as the month comes to an end it is important to continue spreading awareness and promoting acceptance year-round. Although the prevalence of autism in the United States continues to increase, there are still widespread misconceptions and myths about autism. In order to dispel these myths, we need widespread education about autism signs, resources, and facts.
Myth: All individuals with autism also have intellectual disabilities.
Fact: Just because someone has autism, it doesn’t mean they are unintelligent. Rather, autism is a neurological disorder separate from intellectual disorders. Many individuals with autism are very bright, highly educated, and have a successful career.
Myth: Autism has one known cause.
Fact: There is no singular cause of autism. A variety of environmental and genetic factors have been associated with the development of autism. Autism is not caused by poor parenting, vaccines, or a specific genetic mutation.
Myth: Autism only affects children and can be cured.
Fact: Autism is a lifelong disorder. While most individuals begin displaying symptoms during the second year of life, some don’t get diagnosed until adulthood. Interventions and support can mask some difficulties, but symptoms persist through adulthood.
Myth: Only males can be diagnosed with autism.
Fact: While males are 4x more likely than females to receive an autism diagnosis, many females also present with autism. Due to differing symptomology, many females with autism go undiagnosed or are able to mask their symptoms more than males.
Myth: People with autism are anti-social and are unable to show love and empathy.
Fact: Although individuals with autism may interact with others and express emotions differently, that does not mean that they don’t enjoy having close relationships. Social and emotional impairments may make maintaining relationships more difficult, but that does not mean people with autism are incapable of expressing positive emotions.
This is a small list of the many myths surrounding autism. Autism presents differently in each person, so it is crucial to increase education about autism in order to reduce stigma and provide support to individuals and families who have received an autism diagnosis.