Family Magazine

Common Autism Myths Debunked

By Therealsupermum @TheRealSupermum

Common Autism Myths DebunkedThe number of people being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders is increasing each year, and this has lead to an increased awareness of autism in the general population, but it also means that there are lot of misconceptions floating around.  The following are a few of the more common misconceptions and myths surrounding autism.

Myth 1: Autism is a mental health issue

While the behaviours associated with autism may seem like they’re associated with a psychological order, autism is actually a biological illness. Autism is a complex disorder, and people with autism have brains that have developed differently to those of a neurotypical person. Someone with autism can’t just “get over it”.  Their condition is a part of who they are.

Myth 2: We’re in the Middle of an Autism Epidemic

While it’s true that more people are being diagnosed with autism, experts are divided on whether that’s because there are more cases occurring, or simply that autism care is getting better. The definition of autism has been broadened, and this means that more people meet the diagnosis criteria.

There’s also a lot more talk about autism in the media, which means that the general public is more aware of the condition.

Myth 3: Autism can be cured

Some people tout special diets, medication, or behavioural treatments that can “cure” autistic children.  There may be some things that can be done to improve the ability or behavior of autistic children, but at this moment in time there are no clinically proven cures.  The life of an autistic child can be improved through home support services, but autism care is a long term thing.  At the moment, autism can only be managed, not cured.

Myth 4: Autism can be caused by poor parenting

Autism is a biological disorder, and current research being conducted by the UCLA suggests that autism could be genetic. The way a child is raised does not increase their chances of being diagnosed with autism.

Myth 5: Autistic People Can’t Build Social Relationships

People with autism are different to people who are “neurotypical”.  They may have mannerisms and coping mechanisms that make them stand out in society. This may mean that they find it difficult to fit in and make casual friends, however there are plenty of people with autism that manage to build successful long-term relationships.

Myth 6: Autistic Children Have Special Talents

Some autistic people are savants that have extraordinary skills in specific areas.  The misconception of most autistic people being savants probably comes from the popularity of the movie Rain Man.   The autistic spectrum is very broad, and while some people on the spectrum do have unusual talents or skills, there are many other people who are closer to the norm.

Every child has different strengths and weaknesses, and a large part of autism care involves assessing those strengths and weaknesses, and coming up with educational and home support services that will help them to develop to the best of their abilities.

This post was written by James Harper on behalf of Voyage who provide autism care and home support services. Photo: i_a_mcdonnell

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