ord Myths and Facts about Autism
Myths and Facts about Autism PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sorah Stein   
Monday, 06 June 2011 17:52

You’ve just heard someone say your child has, or may have Autism? While that can be startling and upsetting information, I’d like to help dispel some of the myths, and answer some of the more common questions I hear.

1. What is Autism? Is that like Down Syndrome? Is it Mental Retardation?

Autism “is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills” (ASA).


In English, Autism is a developmental disorder that affects social skills, language, play, and behavior. There is a range of impairment in each of these, so two children with Autism are about as different as two children with red hair or blue eyes.


2. My friend has a child with autism so I know what to expect….. Or, I watched that movie…..

One of my favorite quotes can be found on t-shirts and more at www.cafepress.com. It says, “If you’ve met one child with Autism, you’ve met one child with Autism.” Enough said.


3. Did I cause my child's autism? Or maybe you've heard: "There’s no such thing, it's a problem in the home". "You just need to use better discipline". "You need to bond with your baby".

First, to reassure you: No, you did not cause your child’s Autism. While there is research suggesting different possible genetic contributions, there has not been an isolated parental ‘cause’ for Autism.

· “There is no known single cause for autism, but it is generally accepted that it is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function.” (ASA)

· “In the 1960s and 70s, Dr. Bernard Rimland, the father of a son with autism, who later founded the Autism Society of America and the Autism Research Institute, helped the medical community understand that autism is not caused by cold parents but rather is a biological disorder.” (Autismspeaks.org)

3. I heard that children with autism are aggressive or hurt themselves, will my child do that?

While some individuals with autism may be aggressive towards others or themselves, not all are. The communication difficulties that are part of the disorder may make a child with Autism more frustrated, and he may resort to aggression or self-injury as a means to express himself or to get his needs met. If you observe these behaviors in your child, it is crucial to seek assistance. This problem can usually be remedied. You can start by communicating with your child’s teacher, therapists, or physician.

4 .Will my child be able to go to school with other "normal" kids?

The current education format in Indiana has many children with disabilities mainstreamed into regular education classrooms with some amount of added assistance. We are moving away from the ‘special’ classroom, exclusively for children with disabilities.

5.  Will my child ever be independent?

Your child may always require some degree of assistance in this world. Most of us do! But, that does not mean your child will be living under your roof forever. There are many residential options for adults with disabilities. Your child will also be working on skills of independence, such as dressing him or herself, hygiene, and simple meal preparation from the time he or she starts receiving services. These are all with the goal that he or she will be as independent as possible.

6.  Children with autism are not as intelligent as other children.  Or, I saw rain man, will my kid be able to do that?

While about 75% of children with Autism have an intellectual disability, there are many who do not. Your child will likely be assessed for intellectual disability by the school system if he shows signs of not keeping up with his peers.

On the other hand, only about 10% of children have ‘splinter’ skills significant enough to be called savant.

7.  Children with autism are unhappy. Or, Children with autism have no emotions.

Children and adults with Autism certainly have emotions and are happy! Your child will laugh, smile, and cry. At times, these might seem to be out of the blue and may not make sense given what’s going on around him or her. Often, children with Autism need help identifying and expressing their emotions. Your child’s teacher or therapist may identify this as a goal for him or her. There are a number of books, videos, guides, games, and other materials on the market for precisely this purpose. Before plunking down you dollars though, ask for recommendations. Also, check out the library for resources you can borrow and then purchase if you like.

8.  Does the label last forever? And, he'll outgrow it

Autism is treatable. Children do not "outgrow" autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved outcomes.” (Autism Society of America)

9. What are the treatments for Autism?

There are a number of therapies and treatment programs used for working with children with Autism. These include, but are not limited to: ABA (Verbal Behavior (VB) therapy), TEACCH, and Floortime. I caution you to thoroughly investigate any treatment method. There are a number of alternative treatments, which are not scientifically validated, and worse, can even be harmful to your child. I understand the feeling of wanting to “do something”, but PLEASE do careful research first!

· In some studies, intensive ABA was compared with less intensive ABA, typical early intervention or special education, and "eclectic", mixed-method interventions done both intensively and non-intensively. The children with autism who received intensive ABA treatment made larger improvements in most skill areas than children who participated in the other interventions. Parents whose children received intensive ABA reported less stress than parents whose children received other treatments.” (Autismspeaks.org)






Last Updated on Monday, 06 June 2011 18:21

Facebook Like