10 Common Autism Myths

Filed under: Medical Conditions, Special Needs

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Today's guest blogger is Katie Olson (
aurorabunny), mom to 3-year old Brody, who has autism.

My friend wrote this and it really resonated with me. In honor of Autism Awareness Month, I wanted to share it with all of you.

Myth #1: Eye contact is impossible for someone with autism.

Some people with autism find making eye contact with others difficult, but others have no problem whatsoever.

Myth #2:
People with autism can't show affection. My son is the biggest snuggle bug ever! Being able to snuggle up has never been a problem for him. For some, it is, but not all.

More from The Stir: The Stir: My Autism Story: Liz and Her Son Are Both on the Spectrum

Myth #3: If a child is progressing, he never had autism
This is not true. It takes work and patience, but progress is possible!

Myth #4: People with autism cannot communicate.
If someone with autism is nonverbal, they have other ways of communicating. Sign language, pictures, computers, etc. are all forms of communication. Just because a person can't talk, it doesn't mean they can't communicate.

Myth #5: Autism is the result of bad or neglectful parenting.

The "refrigerator mother" myth has been around for some time, and I'm actually surprised it still exists. Almost every parent of a child with autism I've met is very kind, loving, and incredibly patient. They also spend much of their time feeling needlessly guilty about their child's autism, so this myth is less than helpful.

Myth #6: If you have autism, you can repeat the whole phone book or know what day of the week April 23 will fall on in four years.
While most children with autism are very smart, an autistic savant is rare. We can all thank the movie Rainman for this little myth. So in the future, please do not ask a mom to get her kid to perform parlor tricks for you.

More from The Stir:
The Stir: What Really Causes Autism

Myth #7: Children with autism do not want friends.

All children want friends. Some can show this in a better way than others, but I think all children want a friend. A lot of kids with autism just can't figure out how to go about it.

Myth #8: Kids with autism don't get their feelings hurt.

If you've ever seen my son's face after a kid has refused to play with him, you'd know this is not true. They might not get mad and yell at someone, or sit down and cry over it, but it's just as easy to hurt a child-with-autism's feelings as any other. Please remind your children to be kind.

Myth #9: Better discipline would get their acts together.

Boy, do I love that one! I've been told on many occasions that all I need to do is spank him. Another good one, "Let me keep him for a few days, I'll fix him." You can't spank or yell autism away any easier than you can spank cancer away.

More from The Stir:
The Stir: I Have Three Kids on the Autism Spectrum

Myth #10: If a person with autism can't communicate, he can't understand you either.

If someone tapes your mouth closed, do your ears plug up as well? Comprehension skills and expressive skills can develop at different speeds and often do with autism. Just because a child can not say "I love you" does not mean he doesn't hear you when you tell him you love him.

Related: More from The Stir

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.