There are many misconceptions regarding Autism that are not only untruthful. But can also be very harmful to those who suffer from the disorder. It is incredibly important, especially to those who live, work or go to school with individuals that are Autistic to do their best to learn and understand just how misleading some of these myths can be. It is no secret that there is a stigmatism surrounding Autism Spectrum Disorder, commonly referred to as just ‘Autism’ and sometimes ‘ASD’, and because of these offensive misconceptions, Autistic people are often left feeling ashamed, like they don’t belong and like they have somehow failed when in all reality, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being Autistic. Let’s take a look at some of the myths surrounding Autism.
Myth 1: Vaccines Cause Autism
This is something almost everybody has heard at least once in their lifetime. Autism caused by vaccines is perhaps one of the most common misconceptions out there and it could not be further from the truth. The myth stems from a research study from the 90s that although it was not up to scientific standards, was published and made available for the public to read and take as fact. Although there is absolutely no evidence linking vaccines and Autism, the myth has stuck around and sadly continued to make its way through the following generations.
In a day where vaccines have been at the center of attention all over the world, or more predominately all over social media, it is incredibly disheartening that so many people are still able to be swayed by the misinformation given to the world by one individual who, as a result of his twisted views was stripped of his medical license.
Myth 2: Autism is a Disease
This is probably the most common misconception surrounding Autism and by far the most harmful. Many people in the world believe that Autism Spectrum Disorder is a disease which in turn brings about the belief that there is something wrong with those who suffer from it. The belief that Autism is a disease also creates the idea that those who are Autistic are sick and can be cured with the right medications and/or treatments.
The fact of the matter is that Autism Spectrum Disorder is just that, a developmental disorder that can not be cured by medicine, but rather is something that needs to be adapted to and those who suffer from the disorder need to be treated with the same dignity and respect and any Neurotypical person would be. It is incredibly harmful to society to continue this mindset of Autism being a disease because more and more it creates the feeling of isolation and loneliness for those who are Autistic. Children especially are very susceptible to false information and those with Autism may be convinced that they are ill and there is something wrong with them, or those who are around a child with Autism may hear the word “sick” and believe that they need to stay away from a child with the developmental disorder or risk getting sick as well.
Myth 3: People With Autism Do Not Feel Emotions
This common misconception is particularly upsetting. The notion that people who suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorder are unable to feel emotion the way Neurotypical individuals do can lead to many difficulties navigating through life for those who are Autistic. The truth is that people who have Autism can feel emotion the same way that Neurotypical people do. They can feel love, anger, jealousy, and most importantly sadness just like the rest of the world.
The reason that this myth is so harmful and unfair is that it can cause Neurotypical people to believe that if they are unable to feel emotion properly, there is no point in interacting with them at all. It can also create the illusion to certain individuals that it is okay to bully, shame, or look down on those who have Autism because they won’t be able to feel it anyways.
People who are Autistic can feel emotion, it is as simple as that. Autism can affect a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others in social situations, which some people might take as an inability to feel the emotions that they are trying to portray or the inability to foster and develop relationships with those around them. Autistic people may also have a difficult time properly understanding social cues and emotions being presented to them by others, which can affect their ability to respond expectedly and lead people to believe that the person with Autism does not feel anything at all.
Myth 4: Autistic People are More Violent than Others
When talking about people who have Autism Spectrum Disorder, you may hear people saying things like Autistic people are ill-tempered or violent. This is simply untrue. There is no evidence showing that Autistic children who do happen to express themselves through forms of violence are any more violent than Neurotypical children. Just like any other child, some Autistic children are unable to express certain emotions and resort to hitting, kicking, or throwing things. It would be a lie to say you have never seen a Neurotypical child throw a tantrum.
This myth has caused a great deal of harm to children who suffer from Autism Spectrum Disorder in the past and it is important to educate Neurotypical adults and children alike about the misconception and the pain it can cause. Some children with Autism are left out of activities, not invited to play with other kids, and even not invited to Birthday parties because parents of Neurotypical children worry that a child with Autism is going to behave aggressively towards the other children.
There is no reason for Autistic children to be isolated and left out of activities and this is something that every parent needs to educate themselves on to ensure that these children are treated the way they deserve to be treated.
Myth 5: Autistic People Cannot Succeed in Academics
Some people in the world are under the impression that those who have Autism Spectrum Disorder cannot learn, develop skills or take in new knowledge and that is incredibly far from the truth.
Autism is a spectrum, and those who have Autism do not all experience it the same way. Just like people who are Autistic, everybody’s learning ability is different and we all learn things at different levels with different challenges. Autism does not mean failure and it does not mean that a person is going to be unable to further their studies and achieve success academically.
The best thing to do in regards to learning with Autism is for those around Autistic people to learn how to properly work with and adapt to their needs to teach them and help them become successful in school. Just like everyone else, Autistic people will all have their strengths and weaknesses in the classroom and it is up to parents, teachers, and other educators to work with the student and figure out how to help them reach their full potential.
Myth 6: Autism is an Epidemic
This is something that cannot get more tiring to hear. “Autism is becoming an epidemic” has been said all over the media, social platforms, and even just in household conversation. Autism is not and will never be an epidemic, it is as simple as that.
Though more people are indeed being diagnosed with Autism each year, the fact is that does not mean the disorder is becoming more predominant, it only means more people are getting tested. Autism Spectrum Disorder is still relatively new and there are generations still alive today who had parents who had never heard of Autism, so of course, there was no testing for the disorder.
Although Autism has been around since earlier in the 1990s, the stigma has just started to slowly dwindle, not to say that it is not still very real. Society, though still very much flawed in its misconceptions surrounding developmental disorders, has become much more accepting of those with Neurodiversities than they had been in the past. We still have a long way to go but it would be a lie to say there has not been progress, and hopefully, that progress will continue in the future.
Autism is nothing to be ashamed of and should never be treated as such. If you have questions regarding Autism or any other beautiful form of neurodiversity there are many resources out there to help educate and inform you, as well as work with you to better understand those around you who are Autistic. There are workbooks and classes and there is ThearaWay.
Theara and Autism
Theara was built to support Neurodivergent people, including Autistic people. We have several life hacks, resources, and blogs to support Autistic people as they navigate their Neurodivergent life.
We also specifically crafted the Theara Academy.
The Theara Academy
Theara has created a community and resource hub for all Neurodivergent people, what Theara refers to as the Neurodiverse Collective. We created an innovative acronym-based digital training to ensure Neurodivergent live fulfilling and rewarding lives where they reach their goals, maintain meaningful relationships, and embrace who they truly are
Here at Theara, we have 4 unique courses to support Neurodivergent people.
Know the Way at Home is a resource for parents of Neurodivergent children.
Know the Way at School is a resource for parents, teachers, and educators to navigate the Neurodivergent academic journey.
Know the Way at Work is a resource for employers, business owners, and HR representatives wanting to create a more inclusive and accommodating workplace for their Neurodivergent staff.
E.M.E.R.G.E. ND is for people wanting to remove the mask, heal the trauma and grief, reach their goals, and navigate their Neurodiversity.
Each course is tailored to a different stage of the Neurodivergent experience. Whether you’re a parent seeking to support your child, an educator wanting a more inclusive classroom, an employer ready to create a more diverse workforce, or a Neurodiverse person wanting to be themselves, then we have a course for you.
Let’s build a bridge to a brighter future, together.