I had first heard about autism when I was in college. A close friend of mine was relating a story of a tragic incident about how a perfectly normal child had turned autistic overnight. Of course, back then, though I did felt a bit unsettled, I couldn’t quite relate to the gravity of the situation. I was clueless too about the complications of this disorder. I learnt that most people, like me, often attributed it to mental retardation. Later, I also discovered that autistic children could grow up to have exceptional skills in the areas related to music and maths.
A lot of research has been done in this area, but scientists are still uncertain about what causes this condition. For the uninitiated, Autism is a wide spectrum disorder. This means that no two people with autism will have exactly the same symptoms. Some people will have mild symptoms while others will have severe ones. However, children who have received early intervention have known to have better brain function, communications skills and overall social behavior compared to autistic children with no early intervention.
Yet, plenty of misconceptions exist with regard to this disorder. Here are some common autism myths debunked.
Myth: Autism can be cured
Reality: Currently there is no cure for autism spectrum disorders. However, with early detection and early intervention therapy a child can improve, in some cases considerably, over time.
Myth: Autistic children don’t show emotions
Reality: Austistic children too can feel love, happiness, sadness and pain like others do. It’s just that they don’t express it in the same way as other children do.
Myth: Autistic children can’t speak.
Reality: Autism has a huge range of symptoms and a wide range of severity within those symptoms. While some children can communicate verbally fairly easily, others may have limited communication skills. Others are in between, communicating with incorrect grammar, tenses or using sign language to compensate for verbal difficulties. But eventually, most children with autism do learn to communicate
Myth: Autistic children are natural geniuses
Reality: While it is true that many autistic children are gifted with high intellectual capabilites, not all children with this disorder are necessarily geniuses. Like other children, they too have their strengths and weaknesses. Some autistic children have high IQ levels and exhibit exceptional skills with numbers or have remarkable memory. But the same child may lack in other areas like understanding the concept of a game.
Myth: Autistic people are incapable of becoming independent
Reality: Autism is actually quite unpredictable. It could deteriorate or improve over time. Many children respond to treatment and show improve with age. Yet, once they’re into their teens, they may become depressed and show behavioural problems. During this period, a change in treatment may be required to deal with this problem.
Autistic people with require support throughout their lives, but eventually, many are able to work and live independently.