Highlighting the Ability in Disability: 5 Autism Misconceptions to Dispel

Whether it be misinformation floating around the internet or harmful depictions of autistic individuals from Hollywood, autism can be a deeply misunderstood disorder. Without the proper resources, parents of autistic children can be guided down the wrong path when attempting to understand the way their child sees the world. It's essential to do extensive research before coming to any conclusions about how autism affects individuals. Here are five common misconceptions about autism that are perpetuated online and throughout society.

All autistic individuals present the same symptoms

When you hear the word “autism,” you may have a preconceived notion of how autism affects behavior or the symptoms that stem from the disorder. However, autism is a “spectrum” disorder, meaning that the way autism presents differs for every individual. Autism spectrum types range in severity and symptoms. A commonly known type is Asperger Syndrome, which shows in autistic individuals with milder symptoms. Autistic people with Aspergers face challenges primarily in social situations. Autistic individuals with Autistic Disorder tend to have more severe symptoms and may struggle with hypersensitivity to sensory input. It's vital to understand the differences between the autism spectrum types to pursue the most effective treatment options for each type.

Autistic individuals don't want friends

Autism makes communication and social skills particularly difficult to master for autistic individuals. Unfortunately, with social interactions being a challenge, many autistic people find it difficult to make friends. However, this challenge leads many people to believe that autistic individuals are uninterested in making social connections. In fact, many autistic children and adults do want friends but just haven't developed the skills to go about it. It may just take longer for autistic people to establish relationships, but they are just as interested as anyone else in nurturing meaningful connections.

Medicine can cure autism with medicine

Though autism has existed forever, scientists and researchers have not developed a cure for the disorder. No treatment can fully cure autism, yet many people engage in dangerous practices believing there is a cure. Chelation is a popular option touted as a cure, which involves removing mercury from the blood by taking medications with detrimental side effects. Another potentially dangerous “treatment” is taking in vitamin A in high doses, leading to bone damage and liver failure. However, autistic individuals can manage their disorder by talking to a doctor about medications that can treat specific symptoms or pursuing therapy treatment. By doing so, autistic individuals can lead productive and comfortable lives.

Autistic individuals don't feel or understand emotions

Autism doesn't hinder the ability to feel emotions, but it does impact the way autistic individuals communicate their feelings. Autistic individuals also struggle to interpret other people's expressions of emotion. Many people mistake this challenge as autistic people being unable to understand emotion or feel anything, but this isn't true. Instead, they simply express and understand feelings in different ways. Body language and the nuances of speech are not easily understood, so it's best to speak literally when talking with autistic individuals.

Vaccines cause autism

A widespread misconception pushed heavily by the anti-vaxxer movement is that vaccinations cause autism. The misinformation stems from a 1998 report published in the medical journal, The Lancet. However, the journal retracted the article when scientists found that the physician falsified the data in the report. Despite the in-depth research scientists and medical professionals have conducted disproving the correlation between vaccines and autism, some people continue to worry. It's vital to know that there is no credible evidence that vaccines cause autism, and there should be no fear around receiving vaccinations that will keep you healthy.

The bottom line

While many misconceptions surround autism, many wonderful organizations work hard every day to unravel false narratives and battle against mental health stigmas. If you want to become involved in their essential work, becoming educated about autism is one of the best ways to do your part in understanding and supporting autistic individuals.

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