Autism, also known as an autism spectrum disorder, is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It is the world’s third most common developmental disability which starts showing symptoms usually at the age of 9 months. However, with proper screening and diagnostic methods, most children can be diagnosed by the age of two. According to some estimates, India has 18 million cases of autism. Despite increased awareness and understanding of autism in recent years, myths about autism continue to exist. In addition, these misconceptions have led to a stigma against the disorder.
Let’s bust some common myths about autism! Health Shots reached out to Dr Rajiv Uttam, Director and HOD, Pediatrics, Pediatric Critical Care, and Emergency, Medanta in Gurugram, to know more.
Common myths about autism you should stop believing
Myth 1: Autism is a disease
Fact: Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects communication and social skills. It is not a disease and autistic people are not “sick”. While therapy and professional intervention can help, there is no cure for autism.
Myth 2: People with autism don’t feel emotions
Fact: People with autism can feel all emotions but may struggle to communicate and connect with others. Due to difficulties with communication and social interaction, their ability to connect with others may be misinterpreted as a lack of interest. However, with therapy, they can learn to connect and interpret social cues like anyone else.
Myth 3: Autism can be cured
Fact: Autism is not something that one can grow out of. It is a lifelong disorder and cannot be cured through therapy or medicine. While autism affects individuals differently and can change throughout life stages, it is important to understand that it is a spectrum disorder. However, with appropriate therapy and intervention, individuals with autism can still lead happy and meaningful life.
Myth 4: Autistic people are intellectually challenged and are unable to speak
Fact: Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have varying abilities and functions. Some may have intellectual disabilities or speech difficulties, but others do not. There is a broad range of abilities and communication levels among those with ASD.
Myth 5: People with autism are not capable of living independently or having successful careers
Fact: This is not true. Autism affects people differently. While some individuals may require additional support, many are fully capable of living independently and pursuing successful careers. With the right support and resources, people with autism can thrive in many different areas, including education, employment, and social relationships.
Myth 6: Autism can only happen to children
Fact: Autism is a lifelong developmental disorder, and although symptoms may be more noticeable during childhood, autistic traits persist into adulthood. In fact, many adults are diagnosed later in life.
Myth 7: Symptoms are the same in all autistic people
Fact: People with autism may experience a wide range of symptoms and abilities. While some individuals may exhibit common characteristics, such as difficulty with social communication, sensory processing, and repetitive behaviours, each person with ASD is unique and may present with a variety of strengths and challenges.
Myth 8: Autistic children are more violent
Fact: Autistic children being more violent is a misconception. While some may have difficulty expressing themselves, it is not true that they are intentionally violent or more likely to cause harm. Furthermore, it is observed that many children with autism often struggle with coping and regulating their emotions.
Myth 9: Autism can be caused due to bad parenting
Fact: This is untrue. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors and is not a result of poor parenting or inadequate care.
Myth 10: Autism is caused by vaccines
Fact: Autism is a developmental disorder that affects how people communicate and interact with others. It is not caused by vaccines, as proven by extensive research. Vaccines are safe and do not cause autism.
It is important to bust the common myths and misconceptions surrounding autism. It is crucial that we continue to educate ourselves and others about autism to promote acceptance, understanding, and support for people with autism. Additionally, the people, who know about the disability, should further educate others, and make society all-embracing and compassionate for autistic people.