Autism: Myth Busting

Zowie Kaye's avatar

by Zowie Kaye

As a mum to a now eight year old with autism, our journey started out rocky. 

Cameron is my first and only child, as he grew and I struggled to control him I wondered on many occasion what I was doing wrong and why my child would not listen or understand simple instructions. 

Upon his diagnosis at age four, yes it was scary but it was also such a relief, there was now a reason as to why my child was not the same to others of his age and in fact it wasn’t my fault.

Throughout our learning journey I heard and read a lot of myths about autism and many are unfair. 

I understand that it’s like anything different or unknown; people do not understand it and like many myths until they are quashed then people are none the wiser.

So I thought I would quash a few of the most widely heard:

1. People with autism don’t want friends

People with autism struggle with social skills/ social situations. This makes it difficult for them to interact, not that they don’t want to, they just lack the confidence. 

In fact my son has been upset on a few occasions when children didn’t want to play with him.

2. People with autism can’t feel, express or understand any emotion, even happy or sad.

It doesn’t make them unable to feel these emotions, it just makes the person communicate emotions (and perceive your expressions) in different ways. 

They struggle to read facial expressions so cannot always respond in the correct manner.  My son makes us laugh so much but becomes paranoid at the laughing and misunderstands this as aimed at him.

3. People with autism are all geniuses

My son is an average performer in school, working to the national expected requirements. However, he does know a lot about mechanics for an eight year old. 

I have found that those with autism just have extraordinary passion and enthusiasm for something meaningful to them. In our house its vehicles. 

I do know others with autism that have amazing unique qualities that make them super intelligent, but it’s not guaranteed.

4. Its only children who have autism

It is not only children it affects. Those children grow into adults with autism.

5. Autism is caused by bad parenting

Time and time again I hear that children are classed as naughty, difficult, unruly or undisciplined. 

I thought for a long time that my child was naughty and blamed myself, this is not the case and once we understood that my son’s difficulties were frustrations and an inability to communicate it was a revelation.

6. The prevalence of autism has been steadily increasing for the last 40 years

It’s not that there are now more people with autism, it is now a case that it is understood more. 

As there is more understanding, there is certainly an increase but people with autism always existed. 

They now have a medical label which means that the number of people with Autism can be counted and considered.

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