Misconceptions about Autism

The spectrum of Autism is so broad that it’s difficult to describe the typical behaviors accurately. It has come to my attention, however, that there are some very common misconceptions. I will have to address them from my own experience with my son, but I will try to stay true to the broader spectrum.

The myths:

1. People with Autism are less intelligent…I wish I could explain how untrue this really is. For some reason we have a tendency to try to judge intelligence as simply as we might judge fashion sense. If I’m wearing something that doesn’t match, I must not have any. Pretty simple, right? But with intelligence, it isn’t so simple.  Just because my son doesn’t answer a question accurately doesn’t mean that he isn’t smart. It may just mean that the question someone asked him wasn’t as interesting as what he was already thinking about. And when speech truly becomes the measure of how intelligent we are, I think our society in general may be in trouble.

2. People with Autism are savants…Rain Man, anyone? I admit that there are days when Gabe will memorize an entire book after one read-through and I have to wonder for a moment if he has some sort of super-mind, but in general I don’t think this is the case. Like any child, he likes certain things and is therefore quick to learn them.

3. People with Autism are frustrated and unhappy…Maybe some of them are, but I think it can be avoided. What all children need, understanding, goes a long way. Gabe has always just been Gabe to us, before and after the diagnosis, and we try to accommodate his needs. There are moments of frustration when he has trouble communicating a need or when we simply can’t give him what he wants, but most of the time he’s very happy. He’s enthusiastic about everything!

4. People with Autism don’t connect emotionally with other people…Again, this may be true for some, but it couldn’t be further from the truth for Gabe. He makes friends everywhere he goes. Everyone who works at our supermarket knows him. They ask him where his elephant is if he comes in without it, and they are no longer surprised when he answers them with a perfect elephant trumpeting sound. He loves hugs and kisses, and he only refuses to make eye contact when someone intimidates him.

I’ll add more as they come to my attention.

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~ by Rachel McMahon on October 18, 2010.

One Response to “Misconceptions about Autism”

  1. Great post!

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