The internet has surely made things easier for parents of special needs children. Parents can access a lot of useful information through countless sources on the internet. This, indeed, is a blessing.
However, on the other hand, there has been a rise in the amount of misinformation about autism that has seemingly become widespread. With the amount of information available online, it sometimes becomes difficult to separate fact from fiction.
If you are a parent or caregiver to a newly diagnosed ASD child or are simply trying to learn more about autism, this article might be useful for you.
Here are 5 of the most commonly perpetuated myths about autism –
- Autistic individuals cannot feel emotions
This is one of the most common misconceptions about autism that we often hear around us. The truth is that autism does not inhibit an individual’s ability to feel. While autism may affect an individual’s ability to interpret and communicate emotions effectively, it does not in any way entail that an autistic individual cannot feel joy, sadness, or compassion like the rest of us.
- Autism is a result of bad parenting
In the 1950s, a theory suggested that autism was caused due to mothers who were distant and lacked warmth. The ‘Refrigerator Mother Theory’ suggested that autism was a result of a ‘lack of maternal warmth.’
However, this theory has long been discredited and we now know that autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder and is not caused due to poor parenting.
- Autism is caused by vaccines
This is an unfortunate and widespread myth about autism that has existed for a long time now. The myth that vaccines cause autism started in 1998 when a study stating that the MMR vaccine might cause autism was published.
However, it was later discovered that the research was flawed and the medical license of the researcher who published it was taken away. Today, there is no satisfactory evidence that proves the causal relationship between vaccines and autism.
There is no known single cause of autism –rather, autism is said to be a product of various genetic and environmental factors.
- A person with autism cannot live an independent adult life
A lot of people believe that individuals on the spectrum are incapable of leading successful and independent lives. This, however, is far from the truth.
With timely and appropriate interventions, autistic individuals can achieve their highest possible level of independence. Not all individuals will be able to achieve the same level of independence and that is OK.
Since no two people on the spectrum exhibit the same range of symptoms, individualized treatment plans focused on developing particular interests and skill sets of an individual can be effective in cultivating skills essential for navigating everyday life goals.
- Children with autism are loners and don’t want friends
A common misconception about autistic children is that they don’t want friends. This couldn’t be far from the truth. The reason that this myth persists is that a lot of individuals on the spectrum lack the appropriate skills to effectively socialize with their peers. This makes it difficult for them to make friends.
Autistic children are often eager to make friends, but due to repeated rejections they sometimes prefer to be on their own. With the right support and skills they, too, can have successful and fulfilling friendships.