Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that encompasses a wide range of conditions. It is characterised by challenges in social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech, and non-verbal communication. This disorder affects how individuals interact with others and process information in unique ways.

The spectrum of autism ranges from severe cases, where individuals may have intellectual impairments and minimal spoken language, to high-functioning autism, where individuals often have average or above-average IQ but struggle with subtle aspects of communication such as body language.

For many years, autism has been surrounded by misconceptions and myths. These misconceptions often lead to misunderstandings about the disorder and those who are affected by it, says Occupational Therapist Ravi Tuteja. However, thanks to increasing awareness and research, we now have a more comprehensive understanding of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) than ever before.

Let's explore and dispel some common myths around autism that have persisted over time.

Myth 1: Autism is a disease

One prevalent misconception is that autism is a disease, equating it with being "sick" and something that can be cured with medicine. However, this is far from the truth. Autism is not a disease; it is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects individuals differently. Autistic individuals are not "ill" and cannot be "cured." Instead, therapy and professional intervention can help them lead independent, meaningful lives. Autism is a spectrum, and each person's experience with it varies, says Tuteja.

Myth 2: Vaccines cause autism

The belief that vaccines cause autism stems from a debunked study in the late 1990s. This myth has persisted despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Vaccines do not cause autism. The study that originally claimed this link was found to be deceptive and non-replicable. It's essential to rely on scientifically backed information rather than believe unfounded fears.

Myth 3: Autism is becoming an epidemic

Some believe that autism is on the rise to the point of being an "epidemic." While it's true that diagnoses have increased over the last few decades, this is due to better understanding and expanded diagnostic criteria. More individuals who were previously undiagnosed are now recognised and supported. Autism is not an epidemic; it's a result of improved awareness and diagnosis.

Myth 4: All autistic people have a savant skill

Pop culture has perpetuated the misconception that all autistic individuals possess savant skills, like those depicted in movies and TV shows. The reality is that savant skills are rare and only present in a small percentage of autistic individuals. Autism manifests differently in each person, and not everyone has exceptional mental abilities in specific areas.

Myth 5: Autistic people have an intellectual disability and can’t speak

Autism is a spectrum, and intellectual ability varies among individuals. Some autistic people have accompanying intellectual disabilities, while others do not. Additionally, communication abilities vary widely. Some can speak fluently, while others may have challenges with verbal communication. It's important not to generalize and understand the diverse range of skills and abilities within the autism spectrum.

Myth 6: One can “grow out of autism”

Autism is a lifelong disorder; individuals do not "grow out of" it. While therapy and intervention can support development and learning, autism itself does not disappear. Each person's experience with autism may change and evolve over time, but it remains a fundamental aspect of their identity.

Myth 7: Autistic people cannot learn

Another misconception is that autistic individuals cannot learn or develop new skills. This is simply untrue. Everyone, including those with autism, has the capacity to learn and grow. Understanding an individual's needs and learning style is key to providing effective education and support.

Myth 8: Bad parenting can cause autism

Attributing autism to bad parenting is not only false but also harmful. Autism is not caused by parenting style or lack of warmth. This myth originated from outdated theories and has long been debunked. Autistic individuals are born with their condition, and it is not a result of parenting practices.

Myth 9: Autistic children are more violent

On the contrary, autistic children are not inherently more violent than others. Any behaviour issues can stem from difficulties in coping with emotions and communication challenges. With proper understanding, support, and intervention, these challenges can be addressed effectively.

2024-04-02T09:04:56Z dg43tfdfdgfd