Saturday, May 4, 2013

Myths And Facts About Autism, Part II

Continued, as promised.

Myth-Autistic people don't build relationships well because they don't feel or express emotions or empathy.
Fact-Not even close. They might not express feelings same way as the 'average' person, but that doesn't mean they don't have them. In fact, I've known some people whose hyper-sensitivity to the world around them makes them more empathetic because they pick up on things others don't. Many autistic people have social problems because they don't recognize the same 'cues' the rest of us do, but they can usually connect with those closest to them.

Myth-Most autistic people can't communicate.
Fact-Yes, autistic people often have difficulties communicating. In the past, most people with a diagnosis of autism either could not use words at all (non-verbal) or could only do so on a limited basis. As more is being learned however, we've seen that there is a very wide spectrum that includes people with exceptional verbal and reading skills. Even if a person can't use words, there are devices such as communication boards ( that can help them learn how to get a message across. They're not toys, but they're still pretty fun to use. It's amazing how much they can accomplish with the right tools.

Myth-Autistic people are dangerous.
Fact-This is one of those stories that gets thrown around a lot when something happens that can't otherwise be explained. For instance, last December a rather deranged man went into an elementary school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut and opened fire. There was a lot of speculation in the media about his Asperger's Syndrome (a form of autism) diagnosis having had something to do with it. Maybe it did and maybe it didn't, but the fact is that people with autism are no more likely to commit acts of violence than anyone else.
Sometimes we'll hear of an autistic person 'acting out', but it's usually for a completely different reason. For instance, my friend V's son would get very agitated when they went to the supermarket because he was especially sensitive to the lighting and it would literally hurt his eyes. He'd throw tantrums sometimes, but it wasn't because he wanted to hurt anyone; he was frustrated and wanted to go home. It's extremely rare for an autistic person to hurt people out of malice.

Myth-With the exception of savants, autistic people rarely become functioning members of society.
Fact-It's very possible for an autistic person to accomplish a lot if they are supported by people who believe in them and reach them in the right way. For instance, V's son goes off to college later this year. He's not a 'savant'-just a kid who has worked very hard and had people in his life who had the patience and care to give him what he needed.

If you want to learn more about autism, check out's section on the disorder. Here, you'll find a lot of very good information and questions to make you think.

No comments:

Post a Comment