We hear a lot more about autism these days, but it is still a widely misunderstood condition. There are many misconceptions surrounding autism.
Here are 10 myths about autism you shouldn’t believe.
Myth #1: Autism is caused by vaccines.
There is no evidence that supports the link between vaccinations and autism. This belief came about in 1998 from a British doctor’s claims that vaccines, the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine specifically, were linked to autism. This claim has since been retracted and this study supplies sound evidence as to why.
Myth #2: Autism is curable.
Autism remains incurable, but there are intensive behavioral therapies available that can help those diagnosed with autism develop better communication and social tools.
Myth #3: Early diagnosis entirely accounts for the increased numbers of children with autism.
Autism has been increasing at a high rate but improved diagnostics can only account for a portion of this rise. According to Johns Hopkins School of Education, many states are believed to be in an autism epidemic.
A plethora of states experienced a 500-1000 percent increase of autism diagnosis in the past couple of years. There is no known reason behind the alarming rate at which cases are appearing.
Myth #4: Those with autism are more violent and can pose a danger to society.
Individuals with autism may act out from emotional distress and frustration, but it is extremely rare for autistic individuals to become violent out of malice or hostility. This misconception comes about due to news stories that relate autism to violence.
Myth #5: Autism is due to poor parenting.
It was once theorized that autism was the result of cold and unemotional parents, especially putting blame on the mother. It was believed that the child would distance him or herself, becoming autistic.
There is no evidence showing that what a parent does or doesn’t do ultimately leads to autism in a child. Being diagnosed with autism has no link to the way a child was raised.
Myth #6: Autism is a new disorder.
The characteristics of autism were first noted by scientist Leo Kranner in 1943. However, according to PBS, the earliest characterization of a child that would now be said to have autism dates back to 1799.
Myth #7: Autism becomes worse as a child ages.
The truth can be quite the opposite. With intensive therapies and other specialized services for individuals with autism, improvement should be continuous.
If improvement is not occurring, then changes should be made in the type of treatment that the autistic individual is receiving.
Myth #8: Individuals with autism have a special gift or exceptional skills.
While it is true that some autistic individuals may have areas of high performance inconsistent with other skill levels, it is not always the case for every person with autism.
However, high intellect is often a positive trait associated with autism according to new thinking about this disorder.
Myth #9: Individuals with autism are antisocial.
Autistic individuals don’t choose to isolate themselves. They instead lack the ability to develop effective social interaction skills in the way that people without autism do.
Myth #10: It's better to wait to see if a child with symptoms of autism gets better rather than get a diagnostic assessment.
If a child is showing symptoms of autism, it is best to have them assessed as soon as possible. The earlier autism is diagnosed and treated, the better chance that the child’s life will significantly improve. The last thing you would want to do in this case is wait.
Reviewed March 23, 2016
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Best Kept Secret: Autism Myths and Misconceptions. PBS. March 21, 2016.
Autism Spectrum Disorder: Myths and Facts. John Hopkins School of Education. March 21, 2016.
Myths About Autism. Parents. March 21, 2016.
10 Myths About Autism. ABC News. March 21, 2016.
Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. March 21, 2016.