Author: Patricia Bratianu RN PhD RH-AHG
According to the United States Center for Disease Control, 1 in 88 children in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder. Boys are diagnosed with autism 5 times more frequently than girls. Myths about autism abound. Here are some common myths and facts about autism.
Myth: Autism is a kind of mental retardation.
The fact is that people with autism have a wide range of IQ scores just like the rest of the population.
Myth: People with autism are gifted in one area.
Some people with autism are gifted musicians, mathematicians or excel in other areas. This is no different than among the general population. There are always people who have exceptional talents in certain areas but average abilities in others.
Myth: Autistic people cannot speak.
Many people with autism do experience difficulties communicating. Most people on the spectrum of autism do speak. Sometimes communication problems are not an inability to speak, but processing disorders. Many autistic people who cannot speak are adept at using other methods of communication.
Myth: Autism only affects the brain.
People with autism can have health challenges that affect motor skills, digestion and allergic reactions.
Myth: Autism must be curable by now.
Autism is not currently curable. Increased knowledge about autism has lead to development of interventions which manage symptoms better.
Myth: Autism is the result of bad parenting.
While much is still to be learned about why autism occurs, experts do know that an autistic child can be born to anyone. Many theorists believe that autism begins to develop when the brain is being formed in the early stages of prenatal development. Autism is not caused by bad parenting.
Myth: All people with autism have the same problems.
Autism spectrum disorders take many forms. Challenges are different for each person. Some people have mild disabilities, while others suffer from severe impairments.
Myth: I do not know anyone with autism, so it does not affect me.
Chances are good that you know someone on the autism spectrum who was not diagnosed as a child. Even if you don’t personally know someone, you are affected by the costs of providing assistance to people with autism and their loved ones. People with autism have lower rates of graduating from high school and higher unemployment rates. The cost of providing care to people with autism is over 60 billion dollars annually. If early diagnosis and treatment occurs, the costs can be reduced by two thirds. As citizens and taxpayers, it is important to be informed about autism.
Myth: Autistic people do not have normal feelings.
The fact is that autistic people have a full range of emotions just like the rest of us. Sometimes autistic people may express those emotions differently or not show emotion in ways that others recognize. Autistic people feel joy, sadness and love just like everyone else.
The more each of us learns about autism, the more successful those living with an autism spectrum disorder will be. As a society, we will all benefit in a multitude of ways. Ask questions about autism. Learn about the facts versus fiction.