Debunking common autism myths and stereotypes

Debunking common autism myths and stereotypes

Every person with autism is different. There are many myths and stereotypes associated with autism and it's important to know what’s real and what isn’t. Here, we debunk some common myths about people with autism.

Key Points

  • Debunking stereotypes is important as many of the stereotypes associated with autism are just myths
  • Each person with autism is unique, so they have different experiences of living with autism

"Autistic people are computer geniuses"

People living with autism often have very specific and focused interests. 

Computing might be one of them, but they may get enjoyment out of a range of different hobbies and interests. 

Many people with autism have normal to high IQs which means they are often very successful in music, maths or computing, which is where the generalised ‘computer genius’ stereotype may stem from. 

"Autistic people can’t work"

Autistic people are very task oriented and are able to focus on what is asked of them. 

With great attention to detail, autistic people make great employees. 

They may need a little more support to adapt to the work environment, for example, more detailed task explanations, but can be hardworking and dedicated employees.

"Autistic people like dark, quiet places"

As every person with autism is different, they experience a range of sensory sensitivities. 

Some prefer darker, quiet places to avoid feeling overwhelmed, while others may not. 

Sensory sensitivities include smells, noises and lighting. 

Sensory rooms are dedicated spaces to help autistic people manage how they feel within their environment and prevent them feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

"People living with autism don't do relationships"

This is not true. People with autism interact with people in different ways which may come across as being disinterested. They find it challenging to read non-verbal forms of communication such as facial expressions, body language, physical gestures and eye contact. 

However, as they learn to recognise social cues, they are capable of building strong friendships. Everyone needs friends and autistic people are no different. 

Just like with friendships, autistic people are also very capable of building and maintaining romantic relationships. Although they find it difficult to read body language and social cues, many autistic people find themselves in happy and healthy relationships.

"There is a cure and prevention for autism"

There is no ‘fix’ for autism and why should there be? Autistic people are wonderful, empathetic and caring individuals. 

Early diagnosis and targeted intervention can help reduce the impact of a child’s autism on their functioning. 

"Vaccinations cause autism"

There is also no scientific evidence to suggest vaccinating your child causes autism. 

"Autism affects both genders"

Research suggests that boys are, on average, 4 times more likely to have autism than girls. 

However, this may hide the true incidence of autism in girls and women, with some estimates ranging from 7:1 to as low as 2:1 (that is, 2 boys for every girl).

"Autistic people are ‘unemotional’"

People diagnosed with autism can find it difficult reading the body language and emotions of others, this can be misunderstood as a lack of emotion or empathy. 

Generally, they find it difficult to express their emotions or do so in different ways, but this doesn't mean they don't feel them.

What myths do you want debunked about autism? Tell us in the comments below. 

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