The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 54 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder. Yet even as autism remains one of the most prevalent disorders in our society, the amount of misinformation surrounding it is shocking.
In honor of Autism Awareness Month, we’ve taken a closer look at five of the most common myths you’ll hear about autism as well as five of the most important facts you can share with friends and family.
Myth: Autism is Caused by One Thing
Fact: There are likely many causes of autism spectrum disorder. The CDC highlights environmental, biological, and genetic factors when discussing risk factors. A few of these risk factors include:
- Children who have a sibling with autism are at higher risk
- Autism is more common in people who have certain genetic conditions such as fragile X syndrome and tuberous sclerosis
- Autism is 4.5 times more common among boys than girls
Even with those risk factors in mind, it’s important to remember that autism affects all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. So if you’re concerned about your child, talk to your doctor.
Myth: Autism is a Mental or Intellectual Disability
Fact: Autism is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects brain development from an early age. Many people with autism have high IQs and excel in a variety of subjects in school.
Myth: Autism is Caused by Vaccines
Fact: In 1998, a medical study was published that claimed there was a link between children who had developed autism and early-age immunizations. The study was later retracted, and since then, the safety of vaccines has been studied extensively by the CDC, the Institute of Medicine, and countless other medical organizations with no evidence to suggest that immunization influences a child’s risk level for developing autism spectrum disorder.
Myth: Autism Affects Everyone the Same Way
Fact: It’s called “autism spectrum disorder” because there are several subtypes of autism that affect people in unique ways. No two people who have autism experience it the same way, and each person has his or her own distinct set of challenges and abilities.
Myth: There is a cure for Autism or You Can Grow Out of It
Fact: While there is currently no cure for autism spectrum disorders, behavioral treatment can help reduce the severity of symptoms and help individuals develop essential skills for everyday life.