Greatest 12 Autism (Asperger's) Myths Vs Facts, Misconceptions, & Stereotypes

Though I am no doctor, nor a scientist, through much continual research I have gained enough critical insight to be able to say what is real and what isn't about autism spectrum disorder. I want to address the ignorance circulating around the Internet and dispel misconceptions and simple, common myths on autism. The list I provide below rank from the least to the greatest myths of autism, with the last being the greatest of all myths, which you do not want to miss!

Greatest Myth #1: Autism & Asperger's are Two Very Different Health Conditions

Fact: No! They are essentially the same health condition. Asperger's is merely a milder form of autism which allows a patient to function at a higher level; and this explains why autism and Asperger's now fall under the general label of autism spectrum disorder, or ASD. So, you would be correct to say that high functioning autism is the same as Asperger's. Medical experts and researchers have coined these labels for mostly professional reasons. But despite such motives, such labels have caused much confusion among the community of people with autism and Asperger's.

(Keep in mind, for the rest of this article, although I have left out the term "Asperger's" from the titles, the term "autism" also represents Asperger's. Moreover, all alternative treatments, therapies, remedies, drugs, medications, and medicines, and doctors for autism are implied for Asperger's as well.)

Greatest Myth #2: Autistics Have No Empathy

Fact: autistic people can be extremely compassionate and truly care deeply about others. But they struggle with fitting their feelings of caring and sympathy into daily interactions.

ASD can make it very hard in picking up on a total stranger's facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language. Do not mistake this "inability" for coldness and indifference.

Greatest Myth #3: Autistics are Anti-Social

Fact: though some autistic people are very happy and comfortable in their own company, most long for new friends like everyone else.

Bear in mind, social situations are far more difficult for anyone with a disability which impairs their social interaction and communication skills. It may take more effort for autistics to manage, and several are fearful of offending people by accident. So consequently they may feel rather shy. And, since they usually have problems making small and informal talk, they may sometimes appear uninterested or remote.

Greatest Myth #4: Autistics Never Fall in Love

Fact: many autistics have girlfriends, boyfriends, wives, and husbands, and are happy as anyone else.

Although dating is fraught with unspoken social rules, making it that more challenging for autistic individuals, and although many feel quite uncomfortable with physical contact, autistics do find the right person sooner or later. 

Having autism does not necessarily mean you are unable to feel love, or you are not lovable. Everyone must work continuously at their relationships, and with affection and dedication, romance does blossom for autistics.

Greatest Myth #5: Autism is a Mental Sickness

Fact: autism is not a disease but a neurological condition in which the brain processes information differently. This may seem inconsequential, but it's really a very important distinction.

The Diagnostic Statistical Manual, the doctor's handbook on mental illnesses, does not list autism, which may create some unintended confusion; but autism is not classified as a mental illness.

Greatest Myth #6: Autism is a Boy's Condition

Fact: although 4 times more boys as girls are diagnosed with autism, there exist debate whether this is totally accurate representation of the genuine statistics, for girls frequently demonstrate their autism rather differently from boys and thus can be under-diagnosed as a result.

Greatest Myth #7: Autism is Caused by Poor Parenting

Fact: not true!

This myth took root back in the 1940's when Leo Kanner, an early psychiatrist, identified autism and threw the "blame" on a "lack of maternal warmth," and the theory of the "refrigerator mother" was promoted further by psychologist Bruno Bettelheim. The theory was that autistic children withdrew on account of their parents failing to provide the necessary love and affection.

Greatest Myth #8: Autistics Are Dumb

Fact: since autism is a developmental disability and not intellectual, it affects a person's ability to communicate and interact with people, make a person set in his ways, and may burden him with sensory-processing issues; but none of these impact intelligence.

Like most people, autistics are a rather mixed crowd, some being brighter than others. Those with severe impairments can be more prone to showing a lower IQ; on the other hand, those with milder impairments frequently have IQs which are above average.

What also can occur is that anyone may have an "uneven educational profile," meaning he is much better at some things than others. Because the majority of people with high IQs do perform quite well, it's clearly easy to see areas in which an autistic person may be struggling and imagine this is a sign that his intelligence level is low.

Greatest Myth #9: All Autistics Are Alike

Fact: autistics are as uniquely different from each other as everyone else. Of course, many may share some common characteristics, but you can say the same thing about people in general.

Greatest Myth #10: Autistics Have Children with Autism

Fact: nobody is ever born with autism; autism is a condition caused purely by the environment, meaning something in the environment caused a person to get autism. Thus, a pregnant woman who happens to be autistic, cannot pass her autism to her unborn baby. What is occurring here is that since infants are getting autism, people naturally are under the powerful impression of autistics having babies with autism, and thus, why they end up developing the misconception that they are inheriting ASD from either parent. 

Many first-rate and the brightest researchers have developed elaborate, sophisticated, and fascinating theories, some remarkably convincing, that are based mainly on flawed genes. The latest one is that genetic mutations are spontaneous, meaning they are taking place in the affected child, but in neither parent.

Hey, I get it: they are trying sincerely to make sense and unravel the mystery that shrouds autism. But the reality is: these are only theories--stabs at the unknown and attempts to explain and understand the potential causes of autism.

Greatest Myth #11: Autism is Incurable

Fact: although many people are stuck with their autism, some very rare few and unusually fortunate individuals are actually getting cured by random luck, because their parents never gave up trying to find a cure.

Greatest Myth #12: Autism is My Super Power

Fact: autism is not anyone's super power! But because of the prevailing rigid mindset so common among people with ASD, autistics have an unbending hatred for anything that slightly suggests change. Thus, if a treatment is mentioned to them that may potentially reverse core symptoms of ASD, they would immediately dismiss, ignore, or disbelieve in, or even mock at such a treatment; that strong hatred for change is part of ASD, and one must expect a similar response or reaction from everyone with autism.

For example, when someone comes down with a nasty flu, that person is usually and normally inclined not to want to stay sick, forever! So, when the famous and still autistic Temple Grandin said, "If I could snap my fingers and be non-autistic, I would not. Autism is part of what I am," that is not really her but autism doing the talking for her; this shows how deeply Temple has fallen into the "jaws of autism" that she cannot even imagine living a life apart from it! And, those autistics who claim that autism is their "super power," are exhibiting the same passionate I-hate-change mindset; again, autism is speaking and clearly winning. Autism is not their savior, not their "super power," but their cross, their anchor that won't allow them to see the forest for the trees.

The author, who once suffered from over-sensitivity to physical contact and obsessive tendencies like young autistic people, has written King of the Bullies, where he reveals in part 2 chapter 1, a critically significant connection between chronic fatigue syndrome and autism, claiming that what helps treat his CFS successfully, will certainly also treat autism.

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