As much as Autism has become more widely understood over the past 50 years, there’s still a number of misconceptions surrounding it and what’s worse is that the majority of them are actually quite negative. With me having Aspergers myself I’ve encountered many of them both as a child and an adult which is why it’s important to help raise awareness so more people can have a better understanding of the condition. This is the post where I debunk some of the misconceptions that deserve to be left in the past!
Did you know Autism affects more than 1 in 100 people in the UK?
Only children have autism
Autism is a lifelong disability so children with autism will still have the condition as an adult. For example, there are certain difficulties I had as a child that no longer have as big of an impact on me because I have learned how to deal with them yet there’s some that I might not ever shake off. I will always have the disability in some way and that’s okay!
Only men have autism
Although autism tends to be more common in men, women can be affected too. In fact five times as many males as females are diagnosed with autism which could be the reason behind some thinking that it only occurs in males.
One thing I have noticed as a result of this misconception is how unrepresented autistic women and girls are in the media because if I’m completely honest the only people I’ve seen representing the syndrome are white men. This is something that needs to change as it’s important to show every aspect of autism to ensure that others don’t feel isolated.
Autistic people only need support when in school
It’s important to remember that adjusting to adult life can be difficult for anyone not just people with autism. For some it can be very daunting and they may need additional help with stuff like finding a job, managing money and becoming more independent. Of course this isn’t always the case as each person will have different needs and abilities but it’s still good to take note that it’s not just something that a person with autism will deal with during education.
Autistic people can’t feel certain emotions
This is another misunderstanding of how people with the condition express themselves to those around them. It’s not about not be able to feel emotions, it’s more about finding a way to communicate those emotions to someone in a way that they can understand.
When I was little and I used to be petrified of crowds so apparently I used to scream my head off and others would assume I was being naughty when in reality I was so scared and unable to tell anyone. That’s just one example from a very long time ago but you get where I’m going with it – it’s not always as black and white as it comes across.
Autistic people prefer their own company and don’t want friends
This is a big misunderstanding because of how autistic people react to those around them. Social interactions can be very difficult so it’s often something that those with autism will avoid hence why it could come across as not wanting to have friends when really it’s the communication skills that are the problem.
I used not be able to communicate well with people including not making eye contact with them, especially if they were new to me. Now it doesn’t feel as daunting as I used to try push myself into certain situations even if I was freaking out inside and I was lucky because it did me the world of good, I would have never been able to go to all the amazing places and make new friends if I hadn’t done so. This isn’t me saying that everyone should try it because it may not work for everyone but it’s something that worked for me.
Autistic people can’t sustain relationships
I can remember being genuinely quite worried about being in a relationship and how well I would deal with them as I started getting older. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle my emotions or the person I was with would struggle understanding me and what I needed. However I realised that this isn’t the case and if I wanted to be in a relationship with someone all I needed to do was be open and honest about things. Some may not want a relationship out of choice and that’s fine too.
Autistic people are all the same
With autism being what they call a ‘spectrum disorder’ this means that not every person with condition will have the same difficulties with social interaction, communication and behaviour like others have. Say for me for example, I’ve mentioned a few ways as to how autism affects me but I’m only one individual so I can’t say that every person with the condition will have the same problems as me because that’s simply not true. This misconception is easily made as not everyone knows that it’s as diverse as it is so that’s why it’s even more important to talk about it!
Some see autistic people as those they need to fix when all they need is to feel like they’re understood and can get the right support.
If you would like to find out more about Autism the National Autistic Society is the best place to go as they’re a great charity and have loads of information to help you. I hope you all find this post useful in some way and enjoyed the read. Also feel free to ask any questions you may have or suggest some more posts about autism as I would love to hear your thoughts!