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Top 13 Myths and Facts About Autism Everyone Should Know

Updated on March 12, 2020
Margaret Pan profile image

Having learned what and how complicated Autism is in a very young age, Margaret has been researching and gathering information about it.

What Is Autism?

Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder that can cause significant communication, social, behavioral and speech challenges. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, its symptoms usually appear in the first two years of the child's life. The term "spectrum disorder" refers to the fact that there is a wide variety in regards to the type and severity of symptoms that individuals experience.
There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to people on the spectrum and this article hopes to put an end to them and clarify what is actually true and what is false about this challenging disorder.


Each year approximately 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with ASD, while boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls.

Is Autism a Disease?

Myth: Autism is a disease.
Autism is not a disease, it's a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects an individual's ability to interact and socialize with others. People with ASD aren't sick but rather struggle with communication and social skills and activities.

Can Autism Be Cured With Medicine?

Myth: Autism can be cured with medicine.
Fact: Unfortunately, autism is a disorder that lasts for a lifetime and cannot be cured with medicine. However, through the right education and therapy, individuals affected by it can lead independent, productive and fulfilling lives. Although medication doesn't cure autism, it can help with some other problems caused by it, such as gastrointestinal disorders.

Can Adults Have Autism?

Myth: Autism can be found mostly in kids.
Fact: One of the most common and strange questions I have noticed people ask about autism spectrum disorder, is whether adults are affected by it as well. This probably has to do with many people's misconception that autism can be cured. Well, as mentioned above, autism is a lifetime disorder with no cure. That means that autism in adults is as common as autism in kids, meaning that autistic kids will grow up into autistic, adult individuals.

Do People With Autism Have Feelings?

Myth: People with autism can't have or express emotions.
Fact: The majority of individuals consider people on the spectrum incapable of feeling and expressing emotions. In reality, that's far from the truth since they are perfectly capable to feel and express love, hate, anger or other sentiments- they just communicate them differently.

Can Autistic People Feel Empathy?

Myth: People with autism can't feel empathy.

Fact: The truth is that they have difficulties in understanding other people's sadness or distress based on their body language for example, or their facial expressions. Once they do though, many of them are even more likely to feel empathy or compassion than the average person. They may however express it in an atypical manner.

Are All People With Autism the Same?

Myth: All people with ASD are alike.
Fact: Actually, Autism Spectrum Disorder, consists of a variety and non-identical sets of behavioral and developmental struggles,which means that each person is affected differently. Keep in mind that having met a person on the spectrum doesn't necessarily mean that the next one you'll meet will behave the same. If you haven't already, it is possible that sometime you may come across a popular saying, "if you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism". Each case and each individual is different.


The puzzle ribbon was adopted in 1999 as the universal sign of autism awareness and reflects the complexity of the autism spectrum disorder. The different colors and shapes of the puzzle represent the diversity of the people living with the condition, while the brightness of the ribbon signals hope.

Are Autistic People Disabled?

Myth: Autistic people are intellectually disabled/geniuses.
Fact: As a matter of fact, when it comes to the intellectual ability of people diagnosed with autism, it can range from profound disability to prevailing intelligence. Many individuals with autism may have normal to high IQs or exceptional abilities and talents, while others, do not.

Do People Who Have Autism Like Being Touched?

Myth: People with autism can't bare being touched.
The truth is that there can be autistic individuals who don't like being touched by others due to high sensory sensitivities. Nevertheless, those with no such sensitivities, enjoy hugs and other forms of touch.

Can People With Autism Form Relationships?

Myth: People with autism don't form relationships.
Fact: Although social interaction is a struggle for people with ASD, they can build and have satisfying and fulfilling friendships and relationships. It is important that they find people with whom they share interests and who are able to show understanding of their atypical behavior when it comes to social situations.

Are Autistic People Dangerous?

Myth: Autistic people can be dangerous.
Fact: Many people believe that individuals with autism have violent outbursts and can be a danger to society. The truth is, however, that aggressive behavior from people with autism is rare and is usually directed toward themselves. Moreover,it is extremely rare for them to express violent behavior out of spite. On the contrary, it is frustration and sensory or physical overload that may push them to behave in a more violent manner.

Can Autistic People Achieve Success?

Myth: Autistic people cannot be successful in their lives.
Fact: In fact, individuals with autism have the potential not only to achieve success but also to significantly contribute to our society, since they can be very creative and talented. In addition, they see the world through a different lens and perspective, which makes them people who can offer more helpful and innovative ideas than an average person.

Do Vaccines Cause Autism?

Myth: Vaccines cause autism.
Fact: A research published in 1998, suggesting that vaccines can cause autism, has long been proved to be deceptive whereas old and recent studies continue to show that there is no direct link between vaccines and the development of autism disorder.

Are Parents Responsible for Their Kid's Autism?

Myth: Autism is caused by poor parenting.
Fact: In 1943, an Austrian-American psychiatrist named Leo Canner, published a research paper, in which he suggested that lack of maternal warmth could result in autistic people. Thus, the "refrigerator mother" theory was invented. Due to the fact that in 1950's there was no biomedical explanation of autism spectrum disorder, this theory had many supporters. However, nowadays it is firmly established that parental behavior has nothing to do with the development of autism.


Can My Autistic Kid Have a Happy Life?

There's no denying that Autism Spectrum Disorder is a challenging one, not only for the individuals diagnosed with it but also for their families and people around them. However, at the end of the day, those affected by it, can lead independent, happy and fulfilling lives, with the help of therapy and other forms of intervention. What's extremely important is that people be well and properly informed on this health issue.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Margaret Pan


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    • Margaret Pan profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Pan 

      8 weeks ago from Athens


    • profile image


      2 months ago

      Great article!


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