10 Interesting Myths About Autistic Adults
Stunning Myths About Autistic Adults
Myths About Autistic Adults
1 in 68 children in the US has autism spectrum disorder according to the CDC. But what happens when those children grow up? They will join millions of autistic adults who are usually ignored and sometimes spoken about in crude, whispered stereotypes.
By learning about and sharing these common myths, you’re helping to end the stigma that autistic people face daily. Thank you.
Myth 1: Only children have autism. Adults grow out of it.
Autism is a lifelong disease. As autistic people grow up, they tend to gradually become better and managing their own symptoms and adapting to the world around them. However, the core features of autism do not change (1).
Myth 2: You’re supposed to say, “Person with autism”.
The American Psychological Association (APA) has long advocated the use of person-first language (e.g., people with autism) to reduce bias in psychological writing.
But recently autistic adults themselves have begun promoting use of identity-first language.
Because of this discrepancy, new writing includes both forms of speech. (6)
How should you address a person with autism? Simply ask them about it and respect their choice.
Myth 3: Vaccines cause autism.
Autism is very clearly not caused by vaccines.Despite celebrity claims, the single study that found a link was found to be fraudulent. Its author Andrew Wakefield was attempting to market his own vaccine, so he skewed the data, hoping to profit. The study was retracted, his license was revoked, and many studies have proven him wrong. (7)
Myth 4: Autism only affects boys.
Girls and women have greater risk of missed diagnosis, or being mis-diagnosed for a number of reasons.
First, women tend to be better at adapting quickly and masking their challenges and symptoms for fear of social exclusion.
Additionally, professionals still see autism in a male-centric light, so they are more likely to diagnose a female (with the same symptoms as a male) as simply having depression or anxiety. (4)
Myth 5: There is nothing good about autism.
The growing community of autistic individuals is seeking to dispel the belief that they are something to be fixed or healed. Instead, they suggest that autism is part of your personality, character, and “what makes you, you.”(14)
Autistic people deal with sensory sensitivity but some studies suggest that their heightened awareness can be beneficial during activities such as listening to music. (13)
People with autism also tend to have many intellectual strengths such as open-mindedness, creativity, and love of learning. (15)
Myth 6: Autism is responsible for all of a person’s negative traits.
It’s very common for people with autism to have comorbidities such as Social Anxiety, OCD, or Major Depressive Disorder. (4)
Autism is sometimes assumed to be at the root of anxious, depressive, or neurotic behaviors but the reality is that these other disorders could be the actual cause.
Myth 7: Some people are just too “Low Functioning” to ever be happy. Happiness and quality of life are determined by many factors, but the degree of disability isn’t one of them. (8) This means that autistic people have the capacity to be happy and have a high quality of life no matter how severe their disabilities are.
Myth 8: Autistic adults just want to stay unemployed and collect disability. Autistic adults tend to have a higher quality of life when they are employed. (9) This is because paid employment is a source of pride and meaning for people with and without autism (10).
There is a severe lack of employment opportunities for individuals with autism and that impacts their community participation and quality of life (11).
There are very few opportunities for vocational training for individuals transitioning into adulthood and the ones that do exist tend to be of poor quality. (2)
Myth 9: Autistic adults have no friends.
The autistic community is truly becoming its own culture as its members discover their unique but shared thought processes and ways of doing things. New language is even emerging from this community. (14)
People with autism often find friendship, empathy, acceptance, education, and connection in these communities.
Myth 10: Autistic adults don’t need much support.
Autistic adults are making major advances in life and doing things that professionals never expected.
Colleges are struggling to establish support services appropriate to the needs of their increasing percentage of autistic students. (5) As more young adults with autism are gaining employment, vocational training programs are being pushed to keep up. (5) Communities may also try to provide support on how to engage socially and communicate effectively so as to support those autistic persons who wish to be more communally involved.(5,3)
Many programs and services expire once a person turns 18, but there are clearly many areas that autistic adults need support in to reach their full potential: A potential that seems to just keep growing and expanding.
1. Korkmaz, B. (2000). Infantile autism: Adult outcome. Seminars in Clinical Neuropsychiatry, 5(3), 164-170. doi:10.1053/scnp.2000.6727
2. Taylor, J. L., Mcpheeters, M. L., Sathe, N. A., Dove, D., Veenstra-Vanderweele, J., & Warren, Z. (2012). A Systematic Review of Vocational Interventions for Young Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Pediatrics, 130(3), 531-538. doi:10.1542/peds.2012-0682
3. Spain, D., & Blainey, S. H. (2015). Group social skills interventions for adults with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders: A systematic review. Autism, 19(7), 874-886. doi:10.1177/1362361315587659
4. Williams, C. V. (2016). Diagnosing/Recognising High Functioning Autism in Adult Females: Challenging Stereotypes. Autism Open Access Autism-Open Access,6(3). doi:10.4172/2165-7890.1000179
5. Carr, S. E. (n.d.). Quality of life in emerging adults with autism spectrum disorder(Unpublished master’s thesis).
6. Dunn, D. S., & Andrews, E. E. (2015). Person-first and identity-first language: Developing psychologists’ cultural competence using disability language.American Psychologist, 70(3), 255-264. doi:10.1037/a0038636
7. No harmful association between MMR vaccine and autism. (2015). The Pharmaceutical Journal. doi:10.1211/pj.2015.20068402
8. Rentry, J., & Roeyers, H. (2007). Quality of life in high-functioning adults with autism spectrum disorders. Autism, 10(5), 511-524.
9. Burgess, S., & Turkstra, L. S. (2010). Quality of communication life in adolescents with highfunctioning autism and asperger syndrome: a feasibility study. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 41(4), 474.
10. Grandin, T. (2012). Different… Not Less: Inspiring Stories of Achievement and Successful Employment from Adults. Future Horizons.
11. Chan, F., Wang, C. C., Muller, V., & Fitzgerald, S. (2011). Vocational rehabilitation outcomes: A multi-level analysis of economic indicators, VR agency characteristics, and RSA-911 data. Phase one report. Madison, WI: Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Effective VR Service Delivery Practices.
12. Wehman, P. (2013). Transition From School to Work Where Are We and Where Do We Need to Go? Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 36(1), 58-66.
13. Bouvet, L., Mottron, L., Valdois, S., & Donnadieu, S. (2013). Auditory Stream Segregation in Autism Spectrum Disorder: Benefits and Downsides of Superior Perceptual Processes. J Autism Dev Disord Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46(5), 1553-1561. doi:10.1007/s10803-013-2003-8
14. Lengel, L. M. (2015). A Culture of Loneliness: Asperger Syndrome Tiffany S. Campbell Bowling Green State University International Communication COMM 4090.
15. Kirchner, J., Ruch, W., & Dziobek, I. (2016). Brief Report: Character Strengths in Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder Without Intellectual Impairment. J Autism Dev Disord Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. doi:10.1007/s10803-016-2865-7