Stigma and Myths About Autism

According to the Autism Society one out of every 68 babies born in the United States has Autism and over 3.5 million Americans are currently living on the spectrum. Yet despite Autism’s prevalence it continues to be a misunderstood condition.

There are also several autistic symptoms and disruptive behaviors that seem to reinforce these stereotypes in the eyes of the public, such as:

  • Difficulty making eye contact
  • Trouble reading body language and facial expressions
  • Aggravation over routine changes
  • Repetitive behaviors, such as rocking and hand flapping
  • Sensory sensitivities
  • Tantrums and meltdowns
  • Aggressive behavior towards others
  • Sensory sensitivities

These unusual behaviors can be particularly difficult for others to understand because people with ASD do not have physical identifiers, like facial characteristics or mobility limitations. People with autism look the same as everyone else, however they might behave dramatically different. Unfortunately these disruptive behaviors combined with the misconceptions mentioned above contribute to the social stigma that leads to the discrimination, shame and rejection that people with autism face on a daily basis.

Is the stigma surrounding autism improving?

Education is crucial to debunking the stigma surrounding autism. People are becoming more informed about autism and steps are being taken to reduce the stigma of ASD, but there is still a lot of work to do. Organizations such as Autism Speaks and the Autism Society of America are working hard to educate the public, dispel autism stereotypes, promote the positive attributes of ASD and help those who are facing discrimination.

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