It is 2022. It can be safely said that the world is more aware and sensitised about several issues than it was even 10 years ago, including science and health. However, even with the increasing awareness about health and developmental disorders, the word “autism” usually creates a wrong picture in everyone's minds.

Autism is still a highly misunderstood condition. These misconceptions need to be cleared and people need to be educated, so that those affected by autism get acceptance, help, and access to resources needed to lead a meaningful life. 

First, let’s find out what autism is. Autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neuro-developmental disorder (related to brain development). It includes a wide range of conditions (hence the term spectrum) in which the affected person faces challenges with speech, social skills, nonverbal communication, and repeated behaviour patterns. 

Now, let’s bust some myths about autism.

5 Myths And Facts About Autism

Myth 1: Autism is a disease and it can be cured.

Fact: Autism is not a disease and it cannot be cured with medicine. Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder that may be caused by a combination of environmental and hereditary factors.

You cannot catch it as a disease from someone else. Also, there is presently no treatment for autism. However, autistic people can learn to manage their symptoms and live independent, healthy, and, productive lives with early behavioural intervention and therapy.

Myth 2: Autism affects only children.

Fact: Autism is not a childhood condition and it lasts lifelong. You cannot grow out of or cure autism. Autism is a ‘spectrum’ disorder and hence affects different people in different ways, and through different stages of life. 

With the right intervention and therapy tools, autistic adults, as well as autistic children, can develop social skills and communication abilities and lead a fulfilling life. 

Myth 3: Autistic individuals lack emotions and empathy. 

Fact: Autistic individuals are capable of feeling all emotions. However, they may not be able to communicate their emotions or interpret other people’s emotions, expressions, and body language due to their challenges with social and communication skills. 

This does not mean that they lack emotions or cannot express love. Autistic individuals can successfully form social relationships with the right behavioural intervention. 

Myth 4: Vaccines cause autism.

Fact: This may be one of the most popular myths about autism - that vaccines, and specifically the MMR vaccine (a vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella), cause autism. This myth is reportedly based on a dubious study in the 1990s, which has since been proven to be unscientific and unreliable. 

There is no scientific evidence that childhood vaccination causes autism. The safety of all vaccines is firmly established before administration. 

Myth 5: Autism is caused by bad parenting.

Fact: There is no single known cause for autism, and research suggests that there may be several environmental and genetic factors involved in autism, which does not include parenting style. 

This myth stems from a theory popular in the 1950s, called the “Refrigerator Mother Hypothesis”. It suggested that mothers who were emotionally neglectful or distant traumatised their children and caused autism. This theory has long been scientifically debunked.

Do not stop learning and educating others about autism. The more people for whom these myths are busted, the better. 

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.