There are many myths about autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Let’s dispel four of them here.
Myth 1: Everyone with ASD has a special “gift”
Some people wrongly believe that everyone with ASD has a special ability, such as being gifted with numbers or music. This myth probably stems from autistic characters being portrayed as having special abilities in movies and television shows.
While it is possible that someone with ASD may have such a gift, this is rather rare. According to some studies, only one out of 200 autistic individuals has a special ability.
Myth 2: Autism is caused by a vaccine
We do not yet know what causes autism, but we do know that the 1998 study that had linked autism to the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella) was fraudulent. The researcher admitted that he deliberately manipulated the data in order to create a link.
Current research instead supports that it is a multifactorial disease, i.e. one caused by several factors such as genetics, metabolism and the immune system. Some cases were recently noted to improve after the autistic individual took some antibiotics, raising the possibility that there may be a link between the disorder and our microbiome (the bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that live in our body).
Myth 3: People with ASD do not feel emotions
This myth probably stems from the fact that autistic individuals sometimes find it difficult to relate to others and tend to avoid eye contact and physical contact. Despite these difficulties, several studies have shown that persons with ASD experience emotions and are able to love others; they just sometimes have trouble managing and expressing their emotions.
Myth 4: ASD can be cured
There is currently no treatment to cure ASD, and as long as we don’t understand what causes the disorder, we will not be able to develop one. However, there are various interventions that can help improve symptoms and quality of life when they are tailored to the individual’s specific needs and difficulties.