Autism Misconceptions and Why We Still Need Awareness Today {Autism Awareness Day 2019}

Today is World Autism Awareness day, and many of you might find yourself wondering, 'do we really need any more awareness? aren't we all very much aware?'

Sure, everyone knows that autism exists. Perhaps they even know some basics. But sadly we're still a long way off from where we need to be. As a mother to an autistic child, I see these misconceptions all the time.

"But he's so smart."

The misconception that autism equals a lack of intelligence is perhaps that most mind boggling to me. Haven't we come to realize that one has nothing to do with the other. Yes, my child is VERY smart. He's got a memory like no other (he's the only one in our home who can remember the random sequence of letters, numbers and symbols that make up our wifi password!), and an avid reader who has been reading since the young age of 2. He's also hyperlexic, which accounts for a very small percentage of autistic individuals. The reality is many of the greatest minds in history have been thought to be autistic- including Einstein himself. Does that mean ALL autistic individuals are geniuses? No, there are ALL levels of intelligence that make up those on the spectrum... just as there are for non-autistics.

"But he LOOKS normal."

There is no LOOK to autism. You cannot simply look at a person and know an individual is autistic. Even a brief encounter isn't necessarily going to reveal an autism diagnosis straight off the bat (unless you are familiar with autism and can recognize more of the signs, and even then there's no guarantee). Some autistic people speak. Some do not. Some stim more often than others, or in less subtle ways. Some are better able to blend in with others- at least some of the time- than others are. The idea that you can look at a person and tell is simply inaccurate.

"Maybe he'll outgrow it."

This is one that I hear a LOT, but the reality is Autism doesn't go away. Individuals may learn different coping skills, but it's always there. To be honest, I find my son's autism to be more noticeable as he gets older than it was as a toddler. It's nothing they will outgrow, and that's okay.

"Are you SURE?"

This one usually follows one of the previous misconceptions. He's so smart, are you sure he's really autistic? Now, perhaps there are cases where autism may be misdiagnosed for a similar diagnosis... I'm sure that happens on occasion. But make no mistake about it, a diagnosis of autism isn't quick or easy to receive. There is a ton of testing before reaching that conclusion. As for my own child, he was diagnosed at 2 years old. After more than 9 years since that initial diagnosis he has been seen by MANY doctors, therapists, teachers, etc... not one professional has ever had any reason to doubt his diagnosis was correct. So yes, we're quite sure!

"He doesn't act like ___________"

It's often been said that if you know one person with autism, you...know one person with autism. Autism is a spectrum and there are a wide range of personalities, skills and struggles within that. Sure, some people may have commonalities, but that does not mean all will.



And these are just a FEW of the misconceptions that I have heard time and time again. A few of many. Some believe it's just boys being boys (active) or lack of discipline. We may know autism exists, but there is still so much to truly learn!

And more importantly, we have to learn acceptance. We have to be understanding and not judgmental when we see a child having a public meltdown. We have to show compassion. We have to teach our children to show kindness and not exclude those who act differently than themselves. We have to stop the bullying. We have to do everything in our power to make it so that stories about bullying of autistic individuals by both peers and teachers are no longer common, so that we aren't reading stories about mothers taking the lives of their very own children. We have to stop this fear based awareness and truly learn to accept autism for what it is- a difference in the way the brain is wired. Different, but certainly not less!

Today, I wear my red in support of autism acceptance and I hope that you will join me. Learn about autism, talk to actually autistic people and show respect to EVERYONE! That is truly when we will start seeing all the difference.

1 comment

  1. This is a perfect article and thank you for educating people about Autism.
    twinkle at optonline dot net

    ReplyDelete

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