10 Autism myths

Katherine - posted on 12/28/2010 ( 43 moms have responded )

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My friend bamsmom2001 wrote this and it really resonated with me. In honor of Autism Awareness Month, I wanted to share it with all of you.

Myth #1: Eye contact is impossible for someone with autism.
Some people with autism find making eye contact with others difficult, but others have no problem whatsoever.

Myth #2: People with autism can't show affection.
My son is the biggest snuggle bug ever! Being able to snuggle up has never been a problem for him. For some, it is, but not all.

Myth #3: If a child is progressing, he never had autism.
This is not true. It takes work and patience, but progress is possible!

Myth #4: People with autism cannot communicate.
If someone with autism is nonverbal, they have other ways of communicating. Sign language, pictures, computers, etc. are all forms of communication. Just because a person can't talk, it doesn't mean they can't communicate.

Myth #5: Autism is the result of bad or neglectful parenting.
The "refrigerator mother" myth has been around for some time, and I'm actually surprised it still exists. Almost every parent of a child with autism I've met is very kind, loving, and incredibly patient. They also spend much of their time feeling needlessly guilty about their child's autism, so this myth is less than helpful.

Myth #6: If you have autism, you can repeat the whole phone book or know what day of the week April 23 will fall on in 4 years.
While most children with autism are very smart, an autistic savant is rare. We can all thank the movie Rainman for this little myth. So in the future, please do not ask a mom to get her kid to perform parlor tricks for you.

Myth #7: Children with autism do not want friends.
All children want friends. Some can show this is a better way than others, but I think all children want a friend. Alot of kids with autism just can't figure out how to go about it.

Myth #8: Kids with autism don't get their feelings hurt.
If you've ever seen my son's face after a kid has refused to play with him, you'd know this is not true. They might not get mad and yell at someone, or sit down and cry over it, but it's just as easy to hurt a child with autism's feelings as any other. Please remind your children to be kind.

Myth #9: Better discipline would get their acts together.
Boy, do I love that one! I've been told on many occasions that all I need to do is spank him. Another good one, "Let me keep him for a few days, I'll fix him." You can't spank or yell autism away any easier than you can spank cancer away.

Myth # 10: If a person with autism can't communicate, he can't understand you either.
If someone tapes your mouth closed, do your ears plug up as well? Comprehension skills and expressive skills can develop at different speeds and often do with autism. Just because a child can not say "I love you" does not mean he doesn't hear you when you tell him you love him.

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Debora - posted on 03/10/2011

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Thank you so much! I get so tired of the school system and others say that my son is not autistic and does not have Asperger's because he doesn't fit their specific criteria, and after years of working with him, he is so relatively well adjusted. It is really awkward when even professional psychologists, on hearing he is autistic, ask me what his "savant" is, and I have to explain that the relatively few autistic people who do have savants are usually among those who are mentally retarded, not high-functioning and very verbal like my son.

Lisa - posted on 01/02/2011

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Thanks Katherine, great to remind us mums over the holiday period just how special our little people are!!! My personal favourite is #9 and these judgements come especially from my own family, I constantly have to defend him which annoys me greatly as they are perfectly aware he is a little different to all the other kids in the family but they will pick on him none the less and think they are helping the situation when in reality I am the one to pick up the pieces after they leave!!! He has a family that loves and respects him regardless of his difficulties, and I believe that people who aren't tolerant, patient compassionate or accepting have problems themselves!!! Great post :)

Jennifer - posted on 12/31/2010

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This is something we all needed to hear/read. The holidays are an especially hard time due to the change in routine and rarely seen relatives. It's seems so simple to me because I love my son so much, and it hurts to see others (in my own FAMILY) judge him because he doesn't obey them! My son has very few symptoms and I am so tired of the suggestions on how to 'fix him'. -He watches to much TV -You just need to make him listen, and my favorite -You should have his hearing checked b/c maybe it's just that (he's extremely sensitive to loud noises).
You don't need to do anything but accept him and be patient with him as he leads his life the only way he knows how.

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Rosie - posted on 03/16/2012

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Nice post! There are many myths and not enough research done by people who believe in them myths.

Stephanie - posted on 01/11/2011

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As many have said, soooo true and hit home!! Thanks. I'm gonna share this in my notes section for others to read. Thanks again for such a great post.

Renee - posted on 01/05/2011

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So many of those hit home with me. I have two autistic birdies, and this very much touched my heart!

Lisa - posted on 01/05/2011

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Hi Sandra, if you believe your grandson has autism and you are not getting him the help he needs find a new doctor don't let anybody dismiss you until they have done the appropriate testing (this can take some time)!!! Good luck, he is a very special little man who is fortunate to have you in his life!!

Sandra - posted on 01/05/2011

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I believe my grandson has autism but has not been diagnosed (due to the pediatrician blaming his misbehaviour at age 3 on the break-up of his parents relationship) . Could you please explain "shutting down"? He can communicate verbally but frequently doesn't understand what we are trying to express. He gets angry easy which I think is partially due to not understanding what/why is expected/required from him. I spend quite a lot of time with him (he is now 10) and any guides to reading matter or websites would be much appreciated.

Christine - posted on 01/05/2011

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I really appreciated this post. I am tired of people telling me that my son doesn't have autism because he doesn't fit the criteria. They probably do it to make me feel better but it is frustrating. It's hard enough to accept it for myself than to constantly explain away some of the myths.

Shanell - posted on 01/05/2011

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Thanks for posting! I do not have a child that has Autism, but my nephew does. we are very close and he does have eye contact at times, he does show love. He doesnt talk much but he is the smartest, sweetest little boy I know..He is 4 now and I love him just the way he is....I give a lot of credit to my sister for being such a great single mom of 2. I cant stand the myths or when people say things or ask questions. I think he is fine just the way he is..:)

Tanya - posted on 01/05/2011

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That was very informative thank you for the info hope those who are misguided will finally get it.

Pen - posted on 01/05/2011

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Myth # 11: Kids with autism do not have a sense of humor.
Crazy wrong at our house! Our son is very funny, and loves jokes of all kinds. He made me laugh before he could talk!

Coralie - posted on 01/05/2011

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I know the judgment thing is so hard. My son is high functioning so he looks quite regular and is able to control his weird body language most of the time. So when he does something a "regular" child thats when the judgement comes. Not many people judge a child with down syndrome(for example) for weird behaviour because they can see the child is outside the regular, but my experience is when the child looks "normal" they should b. I had a friend whos child would throw major tantums in shopping centres, people would stare and she would stand there and say "would anyone like to help me with my autistic son" always though she was so brave.

Gala - posted on 01/05/2011

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Thank u so much! I can really relate to this. Now we need to get this out to the public for ignorant I mean less educated folks to read it.

Lisa - posted on 01/04/2011

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Hey Linda , well you certainly bought a tear or two my eyes, beautiful words, I couldn't have said it better myself!!!

Carrie - posted on 01/04/2011

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I have worked with children all over the spectrum for over 10 years and I couldn't agree with these more! Thanks for posting. People are so misinformed... and I am always caught off guard especially with people in the professional
fields that are supposed to work with these kids. Especially teachers, speech therapists, doctors and school physiologists. My son, I believe has asperger's and he is at the beginning stages of diagnosis. He has already been diagnosed with Tourette's, ADHD, and sensory integration disorder... but I really feel that there is more. What really gets me is when the "professionals" have 1 hour with him in a super controlled one-on-one environment then come out saying "I don't think he is autistic because he made great eye-contact with me and was talking to me" ??? Ummm..... Yah... I don't know what else to say. I know time will eventually tell. I guess I need to pay for a private evaluation from someone who specializes in asperger's kids.

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Tonight, I was looking at videos of autistic children on YouTube. My son, 4, came up and asked what I was watching. I explained that the baby (toddler) was not looking at his mom when she called him. He asked, "Why does that baby not look at its mother?" My insides were doing a little happy dance. At an age much older than the video toddler, my son wasn't looking when I called his name either. 32 times in a row. But today he did. Goodbye, myths #1 . :D

My biggest autism pet peeve is #10, hands down. It runs parallel to the idea that people with autism are somehow ignorant. Sometimes, the biggest culprits aren't strangers, but teachers and even parents. Oh, it just drives me crazy to hear someone talking down to their autistic child, or talking about him like he's not in the room.

Rhionna - posted on 01/04/2011

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Thank you for posting this, it's all so true! I like #10, my son is non verbal but when I tell him that I love him the way he looks into my eyes shows me he loves me too!

Tammi - posted on 01/04/2011

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#9 makes me laugh now that mine are 17yrs old (twin boys), it makes me laugh because all those mums who thought to give me that little gem of advice are now dealing with unruly teenagers who party, experi,ment with drugs and alchol and wag school etc. while my twins who supposedly needed a good spanking are at home doing their studies, working part time and saving their money for their future and dont have any interest in anything illegal at all. Makes me want to gather all those so called well meaning mums up and blow them a great big rasberry.

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This is really good. My son does make eye contact, not what is normal but does make contact. He is a total snuggle bunny. I've had to teach him that not everyone he meets gets a hug and a kiss. Unless you are around him for a while most people don't know he is autistic, they think he is weird. Playgrounds with other parents are the hardest. I've had other parents tell me that he is not to touch their kids, because he is weird. I've had to explain that he is autistic, but doesn't act like Rainman. He loves to touch and isn't it sad that so many folks today have a problem with being touched. Jamie does still have meltdowns, they are very few and far between. He has to be pushed to his very limit and the meltdowns are enormous. 4 day visit to relative last year was his breaking point, in Walmart no less. My husband heard him across the store, I got that can't you control your kid look from lots of people. We just went to the truck to calm down. He didn't need a spanking he needed his routine. He didn't talk until he was 5 and he was a sponge that whole time.

Bernice - posted on 01/04/2011

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thank you for this myth list. i have posted this in my facebook notes. and im printing it out for my sons class,
you rock.

Linda - posted on 01/04/2011

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Thank you for posting this. One of the most hurtful and upsetting things to be alluded to or outrightly said especially from family members is that the problem with your child/children is you. Medical diagnosis mean nothing and everyone else is an expert. The insinuation that you just "need a few days to straighten him out" or "proper discipline would fix that". They all need to stuff it. I'd like to see half of the people who think they know more than us or the Drs. try managing the world of parenting children on the specturm. We parents have no independent lives. Every aspect of every day surrounds our special kids. Managing services, Dr apts, meals, navigating schools, triggers and always, always thinking outside of the box for something, anything to help our kids be the best they can and move along. We do all this plus many of us work full time. If we are lucky, our marriages stay intact and we have supportive, involved, loving husbands. No one knows the work, stress, tears and frustration of being a parent of children on the spectrum(not only when dealing with our kids, but also from dealing with schools and trying to get services). They also don't know our joys or hard won successes. Our biggest triumph in our lives is when our kids over come obstacles. Just like our biggest let downs are when we cannot figure out how to help them move forward. There is no greater challenge in life than raising our kids. We would never give up but other people do not understand how taxing and often at times exhausting it can be. God Bless us all, we arent looking for Sainthood or Mother of the year... we just want our kids to be happy. And I dont think that is too much to ask. I raise my glass and salute each and every one of us...for every tear shed and for getting up every day to face the world and try all over again.

Helen - posted on 01/04/2011

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Love it. My autistic son doesn't fit this at all but I have to say theres not many places I've been where people have been intolerant of him. I think I either don't notice lol or have a very thick skin when it comes to him. probably a combination of both lol.
There are times when he is clearly autistic & others where you wouldn't notice. Yesterday he had to roll his head & had a drink in his hand, I saw him panic so grabbed the drink off him, he smiled & rolled his head so much I thought it must be about to fall off. He got 2 funny looks but that was all I noticed & I didn't really care tbh.

Alicia - posted on 01/03/2011

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My son blows most of these myths out of the water. He does make eye-contact. Granted, it's limited and only with those he already knows who have shown an interest in something he is interested in (raccoons). It took years for me to teach him about appropriate methods of showing affection and when and where. He just didn't understand that other 10 year old boys didn't necessarily want to be hugged by other boys on the playground - much less kissed on the cheek. He was OVERLY affectionate at inappropriate times.

My son yearned for friends and frequently would get his feelings very hurt if others were hateful towards him. He is quite sensitive and, even now, has only managed to maintain one friendship. He cares deeply for those around him, but doesn't always know how to express it. Many people mistake that for an inability to feel. I know my son. I know when he is "shutting down" and I know when something is wrong.

I can't tell you how many times my parenting has been criticized by other parents (even my own). You can't "see" autism, so people overlook it as a real issue.

Thank you for reminding us that we are not alone.

Katherine - posted on 12/31/2010

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I've done ABA for years and if there is one thing I can't stand it's intolerant people.
People need to be more aware and more compassionate. I love this, and I had to share.

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This made me cry, it's so close to home and we have dealt with each and every myth listed. I wish I could educate the public and every person that stares, shakes their head and makes comments about our kids.

Heather - posted on 12/30/2010

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This is awesome, thank you for sharing. My personal myth is #9. I used to hear it so often when my son was little. Now that hew 17 those same moms and teachers wouldn't say a word because he has become a very kind and good young man. All he needed was love, patience consistancy and time.

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