To separate truth from myth, this blog will discuss the following:
- What are the most common myths about autism?
- What are 5 interesting facts about autism?
- Why is autism so common now?
What Are The Most Common Myths About Autism?
When people begin grasping at straws to try to create their own understanding of autism, myths can become widespread. Promoting accurate information about autism is essential for greater acceptance and understanding.
Below are the six most common misconceptions about autism.
Autism Is Caused By Vaccines
Vaccinations do not cause autism. Children with autism are born with this neurodevelopmental disability, and external factors, such as medicine, do not cause it. There are no studies or records concluding that vaccinations have such an effect.
Autism Is a Childhood Condition
While some of the characteristics of autism may soften over time, autism remains a lifelong condition. While symptoms are most commonly identified in childhood (around 12-18 months), autism can still be diagnosed after age 50.
Only Boys Are Autistic
Autism is not limited to one gender. Boys are more commonly diagnosed, as girls tend to “mask” their symptoms. Girls are also more likely to be misdiagnosed because of the differences in symptom presentation between girls and boys, which leads to a higher statistic of diagnosed males. This ratio is about 5:1.
Autism Is Caused By Bad Parenting
“Bad parenting” does not cause autism. While varying parenting styles can affect mental health, it cannot create a developmental condition like autism. Before modern autism research was developed, doctors in the 1960s placed the blame on non-nurturing parents. Nicknaming them “refrigerator mothers,” these mothers were described as cold and unaffectionate to their children. With solidified knowledge, it is now known that this is false. Autism is caused by genetics or environmental factors!
Autistic People are Anti-Social
Autistic individuals often struggle with social skills but are not anti-social. In social situations, autistic people may feel overwhelmed due to sensory overload, lack of ability to read social cues, and pressure to interpret emotions and body language. This can be physically and emotionally draining, which may make autistic individuals avoid some social interaction.
What Are 5 Interesting Facts About Autism?
Now that we’ve settled those myths… time to talk about what is truly known about autism! Autism is a unique and complex disorder, and countless facts about it are interesting. Below are essential facts to distinguish from fiction.
Autism Is a Spectrum Disorder (It Is Not Linear)
As a spectrum disorder, people with autism can experience it very differently. With various types and presentations, autism doesn’t always come in the same shape and size. How one processes change, interacts socially, and communicates are a few of the hundreds of factors that make up the autistic spectrum.
Some autistic individuals may have one presentation of symptoms completely absent from another autistic person. With fluidity between each person’s skills, needs, and challenges, autism is considered a spectrum disorder!
Everyone Is Not “On The Autism Spectrum”
This is most likely a phrase you have heard many times before, and people may even experience shared signs of autism. But regardless of common symptoms, the diagnosis of autism comes from a neurological difference in brain activity. Diagnosing autism is a long and complicated process and takes a deep look into genetics and environmental factors. So, while people may emphasize certain signs, it is black and white- autistic or not autistic. While being autistic provides its own spectrum, a non-autistic person will not fall on this spectrum.
Autism Is Not a Degenerative Disorder
While someone is born with autism, this does not mean this disorder worsens with age. People with autism don’t see a progression of symptoms as they get older but may experience different signs of autism in various settings. With professional intervention, individuals can learn and build new skills that can ease the effects of autism.
Autism Is More Common Than Most Conditions
Shockingly, autism is more prevalent than childhood cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined! Approximately 1 in 36 children in the United States have been diagnosed with autism. This disability does not discriminate and impacts all races, religions, genders, and nationalities.
Pets Can Be a Support for Autistic People
With the ability to soothe children, redirect aggressive behavior, and promote safety and independence, dogs are a great companion for an autistic person! Additional benefits include reduced anxiety, increased confidence levels, taught road safety, consistent playing, and a best friend.
Why Is Autism So Common Now?
Autism has not necessarily become more common, but resources to diagnose it have become more accessible. As awareness increases, the CDC states that autism prevalence has increased from 1 in 150 children to 1 in 36 since the early 2000s.
Research continues to develop solidified knowledge of the signs and symptoms of autism, and this allows caregivers to more accurately indicate how their child may fit this description. This directly increases the number of official diagnoses as more people become educated and aware of neurodiversity.