It is estimated that 1 in 68 children born in the U.S. have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), according to the Autism Society, yet despite its prevalence there are still many common misconceptions about autism. There is still much to learn about autism, but here are a few myths we know are not true:
Myth: Kids with autism don’t feel emotions
Children with ASD feel just as much, if not more, emotions than others. This misconception is often perceived because they express their emotions differently. People with ASD can have trouble communicating how they feel, which can make it difficult to recognize their emotions. Parents and those close to children with autism have to learn how their child shows affection and emotions, as well as how they are comfortable receiving affection.
Myth: All people with ASD have “special gifts” or savant abilities
Children with autism have a wide range of IQ scores and skill sets and every child is different. Some kids with ASD do demonstrate significant strengths, such as high intelligence or advanced memory, however these strengths often have an opposing weakness.
Myth: Vaccines cause autism
There has been much confusion surrounding a link between autism and vaccines, stemming from a paper was published in 1998 by Dr. Andrew Wakefield that suggested the MMR vaccine contributed to autism. Dr. Wakefield has since officially retracted the paper and his medical license has been revoked. Experts from the Child Mind Institute and the Institute of Medicine, among others, agree that there is no correlation between any vaccines and autism. New evidence actually suggests that signs of autism, such as lack of eye contact, is observable in babies that are just 2 months old.
Myth: We are in the midst of an autism epidemic
While it is true that autism diagnoses are on the rise, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there are more cases of autism than there have been in the past. The increase is better explained by more efficient diagnostic methods, combined with a broader definition of autism and more awareness of ASD.
An autism diagnosis has been expanded to include all autism spectrum disorders, which covers a wide variety of symptoms, severities, and conditions. Additionally, people the symptoms are more recognizable now than ever before due to the surge in media attention to autism over the past few years.
Myth: Autism can be cured
There is no cure for autism, but treatment can be successful. There is no magic prescription, diet or vitamin that can cure autism. Early intervention, however, can go a long way to help children overcome developmental delays and live a happy and, in some cases, independent life. There is no mass treatment for autism, in fact the treatment plan for each child is as unique as the children themselves.