Myths About Autism


Children with autism do not make eye contact or smile at you.


Many do establish eye contact. It may be less than or different from a child without an ASD, but many do look, smile, and express many other wonderful non-verbal forms of communication.

Inside a child with autism is a genius.
The myth that a genius is hidden in a child with autism may exist because of the uneven nature of the skills that many children exhibit. Children with autism may have splendid physical skills, but no functional language. A child may remember the birthday of every child in his class at school, yet be unable to determine when to use the pronouns you or me appropriately. A child may read with perfect articulation and not understand the meaning of what he has read. Children with autism exhibit a full range of IQ scores. Most children with autism will exhibit significant delays in some areas of mental processing. A very small percentage exhibit above normal intelligence; an equally small percentage of children exhibit very low intellectual functioning.

Children with autism do not talk.
Many children with autism develop good functional language. Most other children can develop some communication skills, such as sign language, use of pictures, computers, or electronic devices.

Children with autism cannot show affection.
Probably one of the most devastating myths for families is the misconception that children with autism cannot give and receive affection and love. We know that sensory stimulation is processed differently by some children with autism, causing them to have difficulty expressing affection in conventional ways. Giving and receiving love from a child with autism may require a willingness to accept and give love on the child‘s terms. Sometimes the challenge for parents is waiting until the child can risk a greater connection. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends may not understand a child‘s aloofness, but can learn to appreciate and respect his/her capacity for connection with others.

Children with autism do not participate in physical affection.
There are many people with autism who actually crave affection.

People with autism do not want friends.
They often wish to socially interact but lack effective social interaction skills.

Individuals with autism do not care about peers/adults.
They often care deeply but lack the ability to spontaneously develop empathetic and socially connected behavior.

Autism can be outgrown.
People don’t “grow out” of ASD. With early intervention and good educational programs progress may be significantly better.

Children and adults with autism cannot learn social skills.
They can learn social skills if they receive individualized, specialized instruction, and training. Early intervention is most effective.

Children with autism have no emotion.
Children with autism experience all emotions; however, they may experience them with different intensities and exhibit them in different forms.

Bad parenting causes autism.
Absolutely NOT true. Many years ago, it was a common belief that cold-hearted parenting caused ASD. Research has come a long way and we know that is not caused by something parents do or did not do.

Autism is Rare.
Autism is the third most common developmental disorder – more common than Down Syndrome.