Three myths about Autism Spectrum Disorder busted!

To mark World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, we’re busting three common myths about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

1. Myth: ASD is the same for each person diagnosed as having Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder is described as such because of the spectrum of symptoms that individuals can display- they can be very different from person to person and can vary in severity.

The term ‘autism’ was coined in 1908 by Doctor Eugen Bleuler, describing behaviour of children who were withdrawn and seemed self-absorbed. Since this time, doctors and researchers have developed a much better understanding of the scope of ASD and the challenges that someone with the disorder might be experiencing.

In 2013, it was officially recorded that all subcategories of the condition, including Asperger’s Syndrome, were included under the one umbrella diagnosis of “Autism Spectrum Disorder”, or ASD.

This means that ASD is not the same for each person.

ASD is defined by two categories:

  1. Impaired social communication and/or interaction.
  2. Restricted and/or repetitive behaviours.

Even within these categories, there are a wide range of behaviours and combinations of behaviours that a person with ASD may experience.
This could range from a higher functioning individual who has social skill delays to an individual with severe difficulties in communicating and participating socially.

2. Myth: ASD is a disability only children have

Autism is not something a child “grows out of”. As children grow, their behaviours or delays may become less severe or be overcome altogether. This tends to be in those who are higher functioning and have fewer behavioural challenges in the beginning. Early Intervention services exist to support children and their families to learn skills and link them to supports in the community and can lead to positive outcomes for children living with ASD.
Some adults will continue to require support throughout their lives, whilst others will live independent lives.

3. Myth: Children with ASD are naughtier than other children

If you’ve made it to #3 you’ll understand by now that children and adults diagnosed with ASD experience different behaviours. It is not a matter of being “naughty” or “misbehaving”. Many things can trigger behaviours for a child with autism and lead them to yell, scream and have a meltdown.

Triggers can include sounds and lights that may appear ‘normal’ to an outsider but can be very distressing to someone with ASD. If you see a child acting “naughty” or having what appears to be a tantrum, this can be as a result of triggers in their environment. You can help by offering an empathetic smile or comment and not judging their situation.

Diagnosis of ASD in Australian children and adults is on the rise. There are numerous sites to learn more about ASD and bust any lingering myths.

Some handy websites include:
Autism Awareness Australia
Autism Spectrum Australia