Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Autism Myths

I've had a good reason this time for being gone the last week or so. Somehow I got either a bad case of food poisioning or the worse stomach flu I've ever had in my life.

It started last Thursday and I was just starting to feel like myself again yesterday when my head got clogged and the nose started running. Waaaaaaa!!! Today? I'm probably at 90-95% of normal.

I found this info and thought I'd pass it along:

Autism Myths

A diagnosis of autism is not the end of love and hope. But media stories thrive on the most overwhelming and horrifying circumstances. Here are just a few of the myths perpetuated by TV, magazines and movies:

1. Autistic People Are All Alike

Myth: If I’ve met an autistic person (or seen the movie Rain Man), I have a good idea of what all autistic people are like.

Fact: Autistic people are as different from one another as they could be. The only elements that ALL autistic people seem to have in common are unusual difficulty with social communication.

2. Autistic People Don’t Have Feelings

Myth: Autistic people cannot feel or express love or empathy.

Fact: Many — in fact, most — autistic people are extremely capable of feeling and expressing love, though sometimes in idiosyncratic ways! What’s more, many autistic people are far more empathetic than the average person, though they may express their empathy in unusual ways.

3. Autistic People Don’t Build Relationships

Myth: Autistic people cannot build solid relationships with others.

Fact: While it’s unlikely that an autistic child will be a cheerleader, it is very likely that they will have solid relationships with, at the very least, their closest family members. And many autistic people do build strong friendships through shared passionate interests. There are also plenty of autistic people who marry and have satisfying romantic relationships.

4. Autistic People Are a Danger to Society

Myth: Autistic people are dangerous.

Fact: Recent news reports of an individual with Asperger Syndrome committing violent acts have led to fears about violence and autism. While there are many autistic individuals who exhibit violent behaviors, those behaviors are almost always caused by frustration, physical and/or sensory overload, and similar issues. It’s very rare for an autistic person to act violently out of malice.

5. All Autistic People Are Savants

Myth: Autistic people have amazing “savant” abilities, such as extraordinary math skills or musical skills.

Fact: It is true that a relatively few autistic people are “savants.” These individuals have what are called “splinter skills” which relate only to one or two areas of extraordinary ability. By far the majority of autistic people, though, have ordinary or even less-than-ordinary skill sets.

6. Autistic People Have No Language Skills

Myth: Most autistic people are non-verbal or close to non-verbal.

Fact: Individuals with a classic autism diagnosis are sometimes non-verbal or nearly non-verbal. But the autism spectrum also includes extremely verbal individuals with very high reading skills. Diagnoses at the higher end of the spectrum are increasing much faster than diagnoses at the lower end of the spectrum.

7. Autistic People Can’t Do Much of Anything

Myth: I shouldn’t expect much of an autistic person.

Fact: This is one myth that, in my opinion, truly injures our children. Autistic individuals can achieve great things — but only if they’re supported by people who believe in their potential. Autistic people are often the creative innovators in our midst. They see the world through a different lens — and when their perspective is respected, they can change the world.
Autism Myths by author Lisa Jo Rudy. She also wrote Top Terrific Traits of Autistic People.



~Miss Nelson said...

Thanks for sharing this list. I agree that media does thrive on horrifying cases of autism. I just blogged about Days of Our Lives having an autism theme. I hope that will be more positive than what we have seen in the past on tv shows and in the movies.

Also, I am glad to hear that you are almost back to normal. Get some rest and hopefully you will be 100%.

Andrew Brereton said...

I love the post and agree with everything you say. People, whether they have autism or not tend to be placed into stereotypical categories. I hear it every day from the parents of the children I treat.

Andie said...

Nice picture of the barfing kid. Did Robin find that?

not just a mom said...

you should also post those top terriffic traits, too! (try saying that 10 times fast!)

Danyelle Ferguson said...

I get so many people who ask me what our son's "special ability" is. When I tell him he's good at lots of things, they think I'm trying to cover up his special talent. It gets so annoying.

I totally agree with the last myth buster. Kids with autism have tons of potential - no matter where they decide to work. If they have good support from a loving family, they will become good, upstanding citizens and develop good friendships. And really, that's what life is all about.

Vicky said...

Thank you for posting Autism Myths. I especially like the comments regarding individuals with autism being as different from one another as they could be. This is an essential point, as many families are shocked when the topic of autism is brought up in regard to their child. So many people still believe that if their child makes eye-contact and likes to be hugged, then they cannot have autism.