5 Common Misconceptions About Autism and How You Can Help End the Stigma

The earliest description of Autism in a person was first recorded in 1799, though the term “Autism” wasn’t coined until 1911 in Germany. However, the definition for “Autism” initially described severe hallucination and schizophrenia in children and was later changed by Michael Rutter, leading child-psychiatric researcher, in 1972. Rutter stated, “the autistic child has a deficiency of fantasy rather than an excess.”

autism prevalence graph

Autism through the years has been studied for a better understanding, yet there are still many misconceptions about it and the people who live with it.  It’s common to hear harmful statements, such as “vaccines cause autism. Autism is a result of bad parenting, etc.” but these myths have been debunked for years. Here are a few other misconceptions about Autism that you may have heard of:

  1. “Autism is a behavioral or mental health disorder.” Autism falls under the same category as depression and ADHD, labeled as mental illnesses.
  2. “Autism is more common in boys.” Autism is diagnosed more often in males because females may show symptoms differently. This can also cause women to go undiagnosed, or even be misdiagnosed.
  3. “People with Autism do not feel emotions.” This is a very harmful misconception about people with Autism because they are still people. They feel emotions; however, the way they express emotions can be misinterpreted. People with Autism can also struggle understanding other people’s emotions, body language, and facial expressions.
  4. “Only children have Autism and can grow out of it.” Autism is not something a person can grow out of; however, people develop skills and social abilities to function like most neurotypical people.
  5. “I can’t get diagnosed for Autism as an adult.” Though it may have been true before that a person can only be diagnosed with Autism as a child, we are now in a time where adults can get tested, too. There are not many adult Autism specialists, but anyone can ask their doctor or psychiatrist for a referral, or visit their local Autism center.

Research and resources are becoming accessible.  There are organizations that will help improve the education and awareness of Autism as well improve the quality of life for those who are autistic. Advocating for Autism Awareness opens conversations and can change how people perceive Autism. Being autistic does not mean a person is missing a piece or lacking their own independence from it. Due to the harm Autism Speaks has done for Autism Awareness [1][2], it is important to consider other organizations to support. Here are a few of many other organizations you can look into that will bring proper awareness and empower those living with Autism:

  • Autism Society of America
    • How Donations Help: Autism Society of America is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, and donations are tax deductible. Donations help support autism education, advocacy, awareness, research, and help assist families living with autism.
  • Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network
    • How Donations Help: Publishing newsletters and anthologies to educate and bring awareness, supporting autistic people of color, funding educational and outreach initiatives, providing monetary support to community events and charitable projects.
  • Autistic Self-Advocacy Network
    • How Donations Help: Public policy advocacy, leadership training for autistic self-advocates, the development of autistic cultural activities. ASAN is a non-profit that is run by and for people with Autism.


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