1) Myth: Autism only affects men
Although as many as five times more men than women are diagnosed with autism, women are still affected. Autism in women often goes unnoticed or undiagnosed, especially during childhood. This is thought to be because girls with high-functioning autism display fewer associated characteristics.
It is not always clear why more men than women have autism, however it is agreed that both sexes benefit from early intervention.
2) Myth: People with autism can’t work
Although only 15% of adults with autism are in full-time paid employment, many people with autism express a desire to work.
The reason many people with autism face unemployment is due to a lack of understanding by employers about the disability.
Although some people with autism may find working more difficult because of changes to their routine and stress related anxieties, research suggests that some people with autism show greater attention to detail and logical reasoning skills which are beneficial to employers.
3) Myth: All people with autism are like Rain man
The media often depict people with autism as having savant skills, such as Dustin Hoffman in Rain man, but this is rarely the case with as little as 1 in 200 people with autism having high level ability in certain areas.
4) Myth: People with autism do not make eye contact and don’t interact with others
Autism is a spectrum disorder and therefore cannot be characterised by one behavioural trait. Behaviours vary depending on the person. Some people with autism cannot communicate verbally and may struggle to interact with others, but some people may actively engage with others. The same applies to communication and eye contact.
5) Myth: People with autism do not have other disabilities
Many people with autism also have other disabilities, the most common of which include cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, blindness, deafness, epilepsy or learning disabilities. It is estimated that around half of people with autism also have a learning disability.
6) Myth: Asperger’s syndrome is not a type of autism
A survey carried out by the National Autistic Society (NAS) showed that 92% of people surveyed had heard of autism but only 47% had heard of Asperger’s syndrome. Autism is more widely recognised than Asperger’s and many people are unaware that Asperger’s is classed as an ASD.
People with Asperger’s usually struggle with social communication, interaction and imagination, commonly referred to as the ‘triad of impairments’. Asperger’s syndrome is classed as high-functioning, meaning people with Asperger’s experience fewer difficulties with verbal communication. Due to the nature of these characteristics it is not always obvious when someone has Asperger’s syndrome.
7) Myth: There is ‘a cure’ for autism
Autism is not a condition that can be cured, it is a developmental disability. However with the right support services people with autism can experience a better quality of life, which is why it is important for people with autism to be diagnosed as early as possible. The sooner people with autism have access to personalised support the more likely they are to integrate into society and experience better emotional wellbeing.
8) Myth: Autistic people like to be on their own
Although autism is characterised by difficulties with social behaviours, many people with autism benefit from social interaction and, although they may find it more difficult to develop relationships, want to form friendships and relationships like everyone else.
9) Myth: Autism only affects children, not adults
Children who are diagnosed with autism will have autism throughout their life. Although research suggests that adults with autism will lead a more fulfilling and happy life if they receive diagnoses and support from childhood, it is not something that can be cured.
10) Myth: Autism is as a mental health issue
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) autism is classed as pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs). It is not a mental health condition as it does not affect the persons emotional state, however many people with autism often suffer from mental health issues due to social stigma, isolation and discrimination.