Before we learned about A-Man’s autism, I will fully admit there was a LOT I didn’t know about autism…
I actually didn’t want my son to get diagnosed because I felt like that would lead to his therapy team and his doctors giving up on him.
But as I learned more about autism, my son, the autistic community, and even my own autism, I realized that there are a LOT of misconceptions out there…
In fact… there are even some autism misconceptions that even the experts believe.
And these misconceptions can be incredibly harmful.
They can keep people from being diagnosed properly, they can keep people from receiving the understanding and accommodation they need, and they can lead to society further disabling autistic people.
So today, we’re going to get our autism facts straight and uncover some common autism conceptions that even the experts believe.
Autism Misconceptions Even the Experts Believe
You might already now some of these autism misconceptions… But you may find that even you believe some of them!
Autism is Only a Boy Disorder
This might be the most pervasive autism misconception that autistic people face today.
The fact is, the autism diagnostic criteria was written with young autistic boys in mind.
Because of that, it’s much, much harder to get an accurate diagnosis for autistic girls.
Girls tend to be more verbal and better able to copy the social skills of their peers, so it’s typically easier for them to mask their autism.
Autistic girls are also often labeled as shy, quiet, introverted, or anxious rather than autistic… Even when they exhibit the exact same behaviors as an autistic boy does.
Autistic People are Just Quirky
This misconception just irks me, and it’s multifaceted, so stick with me here for a minute.
The first reason that this belief is so prominent is the media.
Take a moment and think about all of the autistic characters you see portrayed in movies, tv shows, or books you’ve read recently.
Maybe you think of Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory. Or Temperence from Bones. Shaun from The Good Doctor, or even Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds.
What do all of these autistic characters have in common? They are all incredibly intelligent, and they all require very few accommodations in everyday life.
On the one hand, autistic self-advocates who can communicate verbally and lead fairly typical lives have been shouting to get noticed for years.
We face different struggles than autistic people who cannot communicate verbally and need significant accommodations for everyday activities, so we’ve been trying to make sure our struggles and successes are seen.
But because we’ve been shouting so loud, many people start ignoring those autistic people who aren’t like us.
There’s a constant back and forth between what people believe is really autism.
Either autism is someone who’s ‘quirky’ and smart, or they’re someone who’s non-speaking and requiring round-the-clock care.
In reality, we’re all of that and everything in between!
Only Children are Autistic
Say it with me, friends: You. Cannot. Outgrow. Autism.
Many autistic people are diagnosed as children.
With early intervention programs, the eight million doctor appointments a year that kids go to, and school teachers paying close attention to development, a lot of children are recognized as autistic before they become teenagers or adults.
Some of those children receive therapies that help teach them to pass as neurotypical, and they require fewer interventions and accommodations as they age.
But they are still autistic, even if they don’t require the same accommodations they required as children.
And along that note, some of us were missed as children.
In fact, there’s an entire generation of moms that is getting diagnosed right now as they learn about their children’s diagnosis.
Some autistic people grew up being ‘weird’ or ‘quirky’ or just masking who they really are, and they learn about their autism as an adult.
Autistic People Can’t Do That…
I’m just going to be honest, this one makes me a liiiiittle ragey.
In fact, one woman suggested that I couldn’t possibly be autistic because I have a family and run a business, and I wrote her a lengthy response.
Here’s the fact: Autistic people can do anything that neurotypical people can do.
Now, does that mean *every autistic person* can do anything that *all neurotypical people* can do?
No. Some people won’t ever be doctors. Some people suck at math. Some people can’t write to save their lives. Others can’t cook without setting cheerios on fire (#guilty).
But the idea that autistic people, in general, can’t do what neurotypical people, in general, can do is harmful, and it’s ableist.
There’s a non-speaking autistic self-advocate named Carly who runs a talk show and has recorded a music video.
Autistic people can do anything.
Grab your free printable!
If you’ve heard some of these misconceptions, be sure you grab this free printable!
Bring it with you to your child’s teacher, doctor, or therapist. Share it with a friend. Spread the truth about these misconceptions far and wide!