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Common myths about autism

17 March 2023

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There are many myths and misconceptions about autism. Just as every person is unique and an individual, with their own idiosyncrasies, interests and hobbies, it’s important to remember ‘When you’ve met one person on the autism spectrum, you’ve met one person on the autism spectrum’ Here are some common myths we often hear.

Myth 1

You can’t be Autistic because you talk/make eye contact/are a girl/don’t look Autistic.

Truth
Autism occurs in all populations and expresses differently in each individual.

Myth 2

Everybody on the autism spectrum is a savant, like Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rain Man.

Truth
Popular culture leads to creating stereotypes. Although every person on the autism spectrum has their own strengths and interests, it is estimated that approximately 30% of people on the autism spectrum are savants.

Myth 3

Everyone is "a little bit Autistic”.

Truth
Most people can relate to or understand some Autistic experiences. For instance, we might understand how it feels for a pregnant person to be tired – but that doesn’t necessarily make us pregnant! Although it is good to try to find ways to connect with people, some Autistic people feel this saying diminishes the challenges they face, so their problems aren’t taken seriously.

Myth 4

Autistic people don’t experience emotions.

Truth
Autistic people experience the full range of human emotions, but may show their emotions in their own way.

Myth 5

Autism is a result of / caused by bad parenting

Truth
There is no single known cause for autism. Research suggests that there may be several causes with strong links to developmental and genetic factors. Often parents will adapt and adjust parenting techniques in order to meet the needs of their child(ren) on the autism spectrum, and this may seem unfamiliar to those around them.

Want to learn more?


Listen to Emma Gallagher, Autism Consultant - Research and Practice at Aspect, talk about other common Autism Myths in our a different brilliant® podcast with Orion Kelly. They discuss myths around high functioning vs low functioning, expressing emotions, intellectual disability, growing out of autism, and intervention.

Have you got a misconception you’ve heard recently? Email us at comms@autismspectrum.org.au. Together we can bring more awareness about autism, debunk these myths and create a more inclusive world.

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