Common Misconceptions About Autism

Written by Amy Elliott a Clonlara School guest blogger  (***Clonlara School does not endorse or recommend any product/service in connection with this author***).

In 2012, the CDC announced that one in eighty-eight children would be diagnosed with Autism. The actual number of diagnoses would appear to be higher – the CDC released new figures which showed the number is actually closer to one in fifty. Despite the increased prevalence, many people still harbor misconceptions about autism, a few of which are described in greater detail below.

  • Everyone on the spectrum is a genius. The truth is, less than 10% of people with ASD have savant characteristics (think of Dustin Hoffman’s character in the “Rain Man” movie). People with skills such as those are fascinating, and they gain huge publicity. However, the reality is that the majority of those with autism have normal intellect and ability.
  • Every person with autism also has a mental disability. Researchers have, for a long time, considered most people with ASD to have a below average mental capacity. Based on what we know now about autism, those numbers could stem from the fact that many autistic people don’t pay much attention to the tests used to measure intelligence.
  • Autism happens as a result of poor parenting. This is one of the more unfortunate misconceptions, and it caused a generation of women to be blamed for their children’s autism diagnoses. It’s not fully known what causes ASD, or if there is but one cause.
  • People with autism cannot talk. While some do not communicate orally, many do; even those who can’t talk can communicate in other ways—computers, pictures and even sign language. In some cases, people can imitate others’ speech, but can’t directly communicate when they need or want something.
  • Autism = eccentricity. Many on the spectrum are eccentric, original and creative, but so are many other people who don’t have autism! Autism is NOT a way of life. Some who claim to be on the spectrum believe that autism is merely possessing a “different” view of the world, and that parents who want to help their children learn daily skills such as dressing themselves are being restrictive. People are unique, and those with autism are no exception.
  • People with ASD don’t feel affection or empathy. Nothing could be further from the truth! Those with autism sometimes have difficulty expressing those emotions, but they feel the same emotions as every other human being.
  • There are autism-curing treatments available. As of now, there’s no cure for ASD, only ways to manage the symptoms. ABA (applied behavioral analysis) is touted as the gold standard in treatment, but it isn’t right for every case. The same holds true for other therapies, such as Floortime and even prescription medications.
  • Science knows the underlying cause of autism. Sure it does—and every week, it releases a new study saying that there’s yet another cause.

People with autism spectrum disorders are special and unique, with their own dreams, hopes and goals. The next time you encounter someone with ASD, remember the facts given here, and not the misconceptions—and take time to get to know the person, not their condition.
Bio: Amy Elliott is a writer with a passion for autism awareness. She occasionally writes for Voyage Care, specialists in supported living and autism care.


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