Get Eileen Lamb ‘s book, All Across the Spectrum here
Let’s debunk a few myths about autism.
1 – Autistic people lack empathy and are incapable of feelings. False.
It’s a common misconception that people with autism aren’t capable of feelings and empathy. If anything, for me, it’s the opposite — I feel too much. While it is rare for me to connect with people emotionally, when I do I really do. I love with all I have.
I think that for a lot of autistic people, it’s just that we don’t share our feelings in a way that’s obvious. If I try to express my feelings at a level that makes sense to other people, I feel incredibly overwhelmed myself. When emotions take me over, I become unable to communicate. I’ve found a way now to let people know how I’m feeling, and that’s by writing.
2 – Autism is a disease. False.
Autism is a neurological condition. You can’t cure autism. We are born autistic and will always be. Therapy can help us live better lives and learn skills, but it doesn’t take autism away.
3 – Autism is visible. False.
Unlike Down Syndrome, autism doesn’t have any physical traits. On that note, telling someone they don’t look autistic may seem like a compliment but it’s often not. It can feel dismissive, as if because our struggles aren’t visible, we can just “get our act together” and act like everybody else. Autism doesn’t have an on-off switch and while I’m able to “pass” in many situations, it’s exhausting. People don’t realize how much work goes into looking “normal.”
4 – Vaccines cause autism. False.
They don’t. It’s science. Another study just came out in March 2019, funded by anti-vaxxers looking for science to support their side(!), proving again that there is no link between autism and vaccines.
5 – All autistic people have a splinter skill. False.
This myth comes from clichés representation of autism in movies where most autistic characters are portrayed as having some kind of incredible splinter skill like the character, Rain Man, who can count toothpicks on the floor in a matter of seconds. In reality, almost very few of us autistics have that kind of skill.
I do have a few useless skills, like remembering dates and events from years ago. I can tell you what I was wearing on May 28th, 2003 and what I ate on that day. Sadly that great memory doesn’t help me in any way when it comes to finding my keys or cell phone.
6 – Autistic people do not want friends. False.
I personally am craving friendships and deep emotional connection. My lack of social skills and limited ability to express my feelings get in the way, but I want friends. I like people. Just like many, I also need to spend time alone, and tend to be head-in-the-clouds, but I love interacting with people who spark something in me.