Autism: Myth vs Reality

1. Myth: People with autism don’t want friends.
Truth: If someone in your class has autism, they probably struggle with social skills,
which may make it difficult to interact with peers. They might seem shy or unfriendly,
but that’s just because he or she is unable communicate their desire for relationships
the same way you do.
2. Myth: People with autism can’t feel or express any emotion—happy or sad.
Truth: Autism doesn’t make an individual unable to feel the emotions you feel, it just
makes the person communicate emotions (and perceive your expressions) in
different ways.
3. Myth: People with autism can’t understand the emotions of others.
Truth: Autism often affects an individual’s ability to understand unspoken
interpersonal communication, so someone with autism might not detect sadness
based solely on one’s body language or sarcasm in one’s tone of voice. But, when
emotions are communicated more directly, people with autism are much more likely
to feel empathy and compassion for others.
4. Myth: People with autism are intellectually disabled.
Truth: Often times, autism brings with it just as many exceptional abilities as
challenges. Many people with autism have normal to high IQs and some may excel
at math, music or another pursuit.

5. People with autism are just like Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rain Man.
Truth: Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning its characteristics vary significantly
from person to person. Knowing one person with autism means just
that—knowing one person with autism. A person's capabilities and limitations are no
indication of the capabilities and limitations of another person with autism.
6. Myth: People who display qualities that may be typical of a person with
autism are just odd and will grow out of it.
Truth: Autism stems from biological conditions that affect brain development and, for
many individuals, is a lifelong condition.
7. Myth: Autism only affects children.
Truth: Children with autism grow up to become adults with autism.
8. Myth: Autism is just a brain disorder.
Truth: Research has shown that many people with autism also have co-occuring
conditions like epilepsy, gastro-intestinal disorders, food sensitivities, and many
9. Myth: Autism is caused by bad parenting.
Truth: In the 1950s, a theory called the “refrigerator mother hypothesis” arose
suggesting that autism was caused by mothers who lacked emotional warmth. This
has long been disproved.
10. Myth: The prevalence of autism has been steadily increasing for the last 40
Truth: The prevalence of autism has increased by 600% in the last 20 years. In
1975, an estimated 1 in 1,500 had autism. In 2014, an estimated 1 in 59 had an
autism spectrum disorder.
11. Myth: Therapies for people with autism are covered by insurance.
Truth: Many insurance companies exclude autism from the coverage plan, 48 of the
50 U.S. states have passed some form of autism insurance coverage laws thanks to
the work of advocates.

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