February 18 is Asperger’s Day and to observe this, we’ve decided to explore some of the common myths about Asperger’s Syndrome and autism. Because Asperger’s, as well as all the spectrum disorders, are not easily understood, many people prescribe to several myths common to people with Asperger’s.
Here are several that we found in no particular order:
Myth 1: Children with Asperger’s Syndrome will eventually grow out of it. – Asperger’s is a condition that can improve with treatment, but is something that does not go away. It is a lifelong condition.
Myth 2: Asperger’s is a just a condition made up by parents to excuse bad behavior. – Wow! I wonder about the people that truly believe this. But, no. Asperger’s syndrome is not made up, but a real, diagnosed condition.
Myth 3: ADHD and autism are the same thing. – Are color blindness and actual blindness the same thing? Certainly not! This may be a bad comparison, but it’s good enough to point out that these disorders are two very separate conditions. Although, it is possible to have been diagnosed with both conditions, they are not dependent on one another.
Myth 4: People with Asperger’s just need to be taught social skills in order to be “normal”. – Normal – that’s a funny term. Who among us is truly “normal” anyway?! That aside, there is a whole lot more going on than just social skills. For one, many people with Asperger’s experience a form of Sensory Processing Disorder – a neurological disorder in which individuals have a difficult time processing the senses. When individuals with this disorder sense certain things, the brain has a difficult time analyzing them, which can cause confusion or distress. Find out more about SmartKnitKid’s seamless sensitivity socks and underwear which help kids with SPD.
Myth 5: Autism is a mental health disorder. – Actually, autism and Asperger’s are neuro-developmental conditions.
Myth 6: People with Asperger’s are sociopaths, psychopaths and are prone to violence. – This is a tough one that invokes a lot of emotion and debate, mainly because it has been heavily reported in the news of late. In the last few years, we’ve had to come to grips with mass shootings perpetrated by people who are suspected to have Asperger’s – the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school, the Aurora, Colorado movie theater, Tucson, Arizona shooting, etc. But, to say all people with Asperger’s are sociopaths, etc., is unfair. Because our attention has been focused on these news-worthy events, many have erroneously drawn this conclusion. The Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee of the US Department of Health and Human Services released this statement after the Newtown shooting to say that those with Asperger’s are no more likely to perpetrate crimes like these than the general public.
Myth 7: Autism is caused by vaccines. – The debates in the news about Asperger’s and sociopaths can only be rivaled by the debates about vaccines. Although this one has been thoroughly debunked, the debate still rages on. According to the reputable organization Autism Speaks, two decades of research have revealed that there is no link between vaccines and autism.
Myth 8: Autism is a new condition. – Although, autism was not actually diagnosed in the modern sense until 1943, there have been several detailed historical documentations of children whose symptoms resemble autism and Asperger’s. The earliest probable cases appeared in the 1700s, but some writings as early as the 1500s may have been describing what we now know is autism spectrum disorder.
Myth 9: People on the spectrum are incapable of working. – Many people on the spectrum are able to obtain and keep jobs. Also, there are organizations that help to train them and help them to find jobs.
Myth 10: People with autism will never achieve anything. – This is most certainly untrue. Autistic people can achieve a multitude of things – just like the rest of us. The website Autism Mythbusters has developed a list of amazing people that may have been on the spectrum. These include: Albert Einstein, Amadeus Mozart, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Thomas Jefferson, Michelangelo, Hans Christian Andersen, Andy Warholl and Emily Dickinson. Of course, this is speculative, but that is some amazing company!