A diagnosis of autism is not the end of love and hope. But media
stories thrive on the most overwhelming and horrifying circumstances.
Here are just a few of the myths perpetuated by TV, magazines and movies
-- myths that, at least in my opinion, deserve to be blown away! 1. Autistic People Are All Alike
Myth: If I’ve met an autistic person (or seen the movie Rain Man), I have a good idea of what all autistic people are like.
Fact: Autistic people are as different from one another as they could
be. The only elements that ALL autistic people seem to have in common
are unusual difficulty with social communication.
2. Autistic People Don't Have Feelings
Myth: Autistic people cannot feel or express love or empathy.
Fact: Many -- in fact, most -- autistic people are extremely capable of
feeling and expressing love, though sometimes in idiosyncratic ways!
What's more, many autistic people are far more empathetic than the
average person, though they may express their empathy in unusual ways.
3. Autistic People Don't Build Relationships
Myth: Autistic people cannot build solid relationships with others.
Fact: While it’s unlikely that an autistic child will be a cheerleader,
it is very likely that they will have solid relationships with, at the
very least, their closest family members. And many autistic people do
build strong friendships through shared passionate interests. There are
also plenty of autistic people who marry and have satisfying romantic
4. Autistic People Are a Danger to Society
Myth: Autistic people are dangerous.
Fact: Recent news reports of an individual with Asperger Syndrome
committing violent acts have led to fears about violence and autism.
While there are many autistic individuals who exhibit violent behaviors,
those behaviors are almost always caused by frustration, physical
and/or sensory overload, and similar issues. It’s very rare for an
autistic person to act violently out of malice. 5. All Autistic People Are Savants
Myth: Autistic people have amazing “savant” abilities, such as extraordinary math skills or musical skills.
Fact: It is true that a relatively few autistic people are “savants.”
These individuals have what are called “splinter skills” which relate
only to one or two areas of extraordinary ability. By far the majority
of autistic people, though, have ordinary or even less-than-ordinary
6. Autistic People Have No Language Skills
Myth: Most autistic people are non-verbal or close to non-verbal.
Fact: Individuals with a classic autism diagnosis are sometimes
non-verbal or nearly non-verbal. But the autism spectrum also includes
extremely verbal individuals with very high reading skills. Diagnoses at
the higher end of the spectrum are increasing much faster than
diagnoses at the lower end of the spectrum.
7. Autistic People Can't Do Much of Anything
Myth: I shouldn’t expect much of an autistic person.
Fact: This is one myth that, in my opinion, truly injures our children.
Autistic individuals can achieve great things -- but only if they're
supported by people who believe in their potential. Autistic people are
often the creative innovators in our midst. They see the world through a
different lens -- and when their perspective is respected, they can
change the world.