11 (Ridiculous) Myths about Autism
Autism Speaks helped DoSomething.org develop a list of common myths about autism. The following link, http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-myths-about-autism, points out those 11 myths about autism. Let’s recap them here:
- Autism = Not Wanting Friends. WRONG! Of course (almost) everyone wants friends. Who wants to be lonely? Even people who may not enjoy large groups of people want friends they can share things with and be candid with. This myth comes from the perception that someone who is autistic is mean or shy but usually this is because they have a harder time communicating socially.
- Autistic People are Emotionless. What? Everyone has emotions and everyone can project them. Again, the forms of communication may be different than what people are commonly used to so the perception is that emotion cannot be expressed. This is ridiculous. Next!
- If you have Autism you can’t understand when I’m happy, sad, etc. Really? Again, this boils down to communication. Don’t use subtleties when trying to communicate your emotions to someone with autism. Let’s not belabor this point. Communication.
- If you have Autism, you’re not smart. One word, Einstein. Many people believe he had Aspergers. Many extremely talented musicians have some form of autism. Also many people that are brilliant with math are on the spectrum as well.
- People with Autism are all the same. This is far from true. The spectrum referred to in autism means that there is a broad range of severities of the disorder and therefore a broad range of personalities, intellectual abilities, etc.
- Autism is Just an Odd Phase. No. Autism is not a phase. It’s not just a kid acting out because s/he doesn’t want to do homework. It’s a development in the brain that is not something one can just “grow out of.”
- Once You are Diagnosed with Autism, You Will Have it Forever. This seems to be true based on the above explanation for why you can’t grow out of it. To be honest, I thought this was true. It seems that it can never truly go away, however the earlier it is detected and with enough “intensive early intervention”, the person may be able to “test out” of autism. This doesn’t seem to imply that it goes away forever though. Not sure this one belongs here. It confuses the reader with number 6.
- Autism Only Affects the Brain. This is actually not true. Many people with autism have other problems like food sensitivities and allergies.
- Autism is Caused By Bad Parenting. Yes, your parenting is so bad that you were able to cause the human brain to bow to your powers
and transform. You are one BAD parent. Come on, really? Who knew this was even a “common” perception? No one can make the brain change except a surgeon. Parents can teach morals, values, commitment, and the willingness to learn but beyond that, there’s little a parent can do to affect their child. (In case you missed it, that first sentence is sarcasm. To be clear, NO bad parenting or any kind of parenting for that matter cannot cause autism.)
Apparently this myth stems from a theory in the 1950′s called the “refrigerator mother” theory. Essentially the hypothesis was that the mother’s lack of emotion toward the child caused autism. Again, these must have been some powerful mothers to alter the brain with nothing but the absence of emotion. Bravo.
- Autism Diagnoses Have been Steadily Rising for 40 Years. Has it been rising? Yes, only in the last 20 years it has gone from every 1 in 1,500 to 1 in 110. That’s a 600% jump in 20 years. Not sure what point they’re trying to make here. Bottom line though is that yes, it is rising. Perhaps not steadily but it is rising.
- Insurance Covers Therapy for People with Autism. Unfortunately this is not true. It should be true, but it’s not. Most companies do not include autism on their coverage and “only half of the 50 states currently require coverage for treatments of autism spectrum disorders.” Yet it seems like over half the country goes to therapy that is covered by their insurance for depression, anxiety, etc. What makes these issues more worthy of insurance coverage than autism?
So that’s it. The 11 ridiculous myths debunked, dispelled and dis-proven. How about you, have you heard any that you want to set the record straight on?