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5 Myths about Autism and the Facts

Updated: May 21

People with Autism are just like everyone else with one exception: they process information differently and may have difficulties with social interactions, e.g., communicating and understanding their and other peoples’ emotions. It’s currently believed, one in 36 children have autism, and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is more common than childhood diabetes, AIDS, and cancer combined. Basically, you will most likely interact with an autistic person in your life, and if you are a parent, so will your children. That’s why it’s essential to understand the common myths around autism and the truth of the matter.

Inside a grade school classroom, two young, smiling girls sit at a desk, one passes a note to the other.

Myth 1: People with autism have a lower intelligence

Fact: Let’s get this one out of the way first. Just like neurotypical people, people with autism will have a wide range of IQs. They will also have abilities and skills that can’t be measured that way. It has been found that the source of this myth is from decades-old research, which was conducted with unreliable and biased tests, therefore leading to underrepresented intelligence in autistic individuals. There is no conclusive evidence that autism itself contributes to intellectual disabilities. In fact, researchers are beginning to find that the opposite is true. 

It’s also been found that many children with autism exhibit hyperlexia, or the ability to read above their grade level. Furthermore, people with autism can absolutely have genius IQs. It is widely believed that Andy Warhol, Albert Einstein, and Bill Gates had/have autism. 

Myth 2: People with autism don’t care about relationships

Fact: Autism can affect a person’s ability to understand social cues; however, most individuals with autism care deeply about others and want to connect and engage — it just may not come natural for them. With the right therapy, they can develop compassionate and socially connected behavior. 

Myth 3: Autism affects everyone in the same way

Fact: Autism Spectrum Disorder is called that because it is a spectrum. Individuals’ abilities and challenges can be mild or severe in presentation. But, every person with Autism has a unique set of behaviors and impairments. Different levels of support are needed for every autistic individual, depending on how their autism presents.

Myth 4: Boys are most likely to have autism

Fact: Approximately 1 in 68 children in the U.S. has ASD, and currently, diagnoses are at a 4:1 boys (assigned male at birth) to girls (assigned female at birth) ratio. Scientists are trying to determine why this discrepancy exists. Epidemiological studies show that Autism in females may be underdiagnosed or missed altogether. There is yet no definitive answer as to why boys have a higher diagnosis rate. 

One theory is diagnostic bias. The current criteria for autism are based primarily on male behavior. Thus, females are less likely to be diagnosed or diagnosed later because the criteria for an autism diagnosis is biased against them. Autism doesn’t discriminate and affects every race, nation, and gender.

Myth 5: Autism is a childhood condition

Fact: ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, meaning people will not grow out of autism, and there is no cure. However, early interventions make a significant difference in how a child with autism develops. There are effective therapeutic strategies that help children with ASD develop skills to manage their condition and gain valuable independence. The earlier autism is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome. Visit your doctor for more information and ask about interventions that could be helpful for your child or loved one. 

An autism diagnosis can be scary for parents and families, but knowledge is power! Learn the signs and symptoms and find out about the treatment options in your area. Most importantly, listen and learn from self-advocates and information that is centered around and involves the autistic community.  

To learn more, visit Autism resources like:

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