Autism Myths: Debunked

Autism Myths: Debunked

autism myths


Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction, and behaviour. Despite being widely researched and studied in recent years, it still remains misunderstood. As a result, several myths and misconceptions surround ASD. These myths can lead to stigma, and discrimination against individuals with autism and their families. In this article, we will explore some of the most common autism myths and debunk them.


Myth #1: Bad parenting leads to autism

One of the most persistent myths about autism is that it is caused by bad parenting. This myth stems from the early days of autism research when the flawed and outdated “refrigerator mother theory” was popular. According to this theory, autism was caused by mothers who were cold and unresponsive to their children. There is no scientific evidence to support the idea and this theory was discredited long ago. Instead, autism is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.


Myth #2: Autism can be cured

ASD is a lifelong condition. It affects the way a person’s brain processes information and interacts with the world around them. To date, there is no known cure for it. However, with early intervention and appropriate support, many people with autism can manage their symptoms.  Instead of  focusing on a cure, the goal of autism management is to help children and adults with autism lead fulfilling and happy lives.


Myth #3: People with autism have exceptional skills

Many people believe that all individuals with autism have exceptional skills in one area.  While it is true that some individuals with autism have shown great talent in fields of art, music and mathematics, this is not true for all autistic people. In fact, only a small percentage of individuals with autism are savants.


Myth #4: Autism is a mental illness

Autism is often confused with mental illness. Autism is a neurological disorder, not a mental illness. It affects the way the brain processes information. Mental illness, on the other hand, has a wide range of conditions that affect a person’s mood, thoughts, and behaviour. While some autistic people may also have a mental illness, autism itself is not a mental illness.


Myth #5: Vaccines cause ASD

Perhaps one of the most widely accepted and harmful myth related to autism is that vaccines cause autism. This myth surfaced after British medical practitioner Andrew Wakefield published his research in The Lancet in 1998. The study suggested a link between the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. But here is the major twist: in 2010, The Lancet fully retracted this publication because several elements of the research had been falsified. And then, Wakefield was struck off the UK medical register, for deliberate falsification. Since then, numerous studies have been conducted. No scientific evidence to support the claim was discovered.


Myth #6: Individuals with autism don’t have empathy

Another common myth about autism is that people with autism lack empathy. People with autism sometimes struggle to understand social cues and nonverbal communication. Because of this, many people think that autistic people do not feel empathy for others. However, this is not true. While people with autism may have difficulty expressing empathy in ways other people can, they are certainly capable of feeling and expressing empathy in their own unique ways.


Myth #7 People with autism are all the same

One size doesn’t fit all.  Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that it affects people in different ways and to different degrees. Some people with autism may have significant language delays, while others may have exceptional verbal abilities. Some may have difficulty with sensory processing, while others may have a heightened sensitivity to certain stimuli.


Myth #8: ASD only affects children

Autism is a lifelong condition that affects individuals of all ages. While autism is typically diagnosed in childhood, many adults are also diagnosed later in life. In fact, some individuals with autism may not receive a diagnosis until they are well into adulthood.

It is important to recognize that autism does not go away with age. Adults with autism may face unique challenges related to employment, relationships, and independent living, and they may require ongoing support and accommodations to succeed.



Autism myths hurt many people and families. They need to be discussed, disproven, discredited and debunked.

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