Top Five Misconceptions Of Autism


Media by Sarah Harris


In honor of National Autism Awareness month, Jessica Donaldson, autism specialist at the University of New Mexico, responded to some common myths about autism.


Myth #1: Individuals with autism are emotionless.

Truth: “They have a harder time processing and recognizing their own emotions and recognizing the emotions of others. But just because they have trouble labeling emotions doesn’t mean they don’t have them.”


Myth #2: Individuals with autism prefer to stay isolated and are selfish and careless.

Truth: “What we now know is that they do want to interact. They just might not have the social skills on how to interact. They may not want as much social interactions as some but they still want some and they might need help within these social interactions.”


Myth #3: All individuals with autism are considered gifted.

Truth: “There’s a wide range. There are some who might have some savant abilities but there is also a large portion who don’t. I think everyone has their own talents and strengths and regardless of their disability or ability they all have something to contribute. As professionals, it is our job to find it.”


Myth #4: Vaccines cause autism.

Truth: “ I am pro vaccines, but I do believe they need to be regulated. There have been many problems related to unregulated vaccines, but even with the unregulated vaccines, you can’t say they cause autism because no one knows what the true cause is.”


Myth #5: Autism results from bad parenting.

Truth: “This misconception started with the refrigerator mother in the 1950s. There was a hypothesis regarding mothers and how they cause autism due to lack of love and support. From then, many mothers have been blamed for their children having autism. However, this is not the case. I have a brother with autism and my parents were nothing but supportive.”