Over the last few years, Autism has been getting a lot of attention from the media. This is due to
the number of individuals diagnosed with the disorder increasing. In fact, 5.4 million people have been diagnosed with Autism in the United States alone (Drah, 2021). With the increase of Autism diagnosis, this disorder can no longer be ignored. But what do we really know about Autism? Much of what we assume about Autism may not even be factual. In order to really understand the disorder itself, we must be able to divide the difference between fact and fiction.
- Autism is a developmental disorder and neurological disorder. It is not a mental health disorder. What are developmental disorders? Developmental disorders involve the individual’s ability to learn, speak, socialize, or even physically move. These types of disorders also involve the individual’s ability to think and reason as well. Mental health disorders can be treated and can possibly go into remission after intense treatment, but developmental disorders while they can be treated can’t go into remission. Many people tend to think that they might be cured from their developmental disorder, but the reality is that these disorders last a lifetime.
- An autism diagnosis is not the result of negative parenting or lack of prenatal care before birth. Many people tend to believe that mothers were responsible for their children developing Autism due to alcohol or drug use during pregnancy. This couldn’t be further for the truth. Autism does not develop due to any fault of the parents or lack of parental care. Truthfully, one of the causes of Autism is due to genetics. If one family member has been diagnosed with the disorder, then there is a high probability that another family member might be diagnosed with Autism.
- An autism diagnosis does not necessarily mean that the individual is also intellectually disabled. Autism is a spectrum disorder which means that it is a disorder that has different levels of functioning ranging from high to low. There are some individuals diagnosed with Autism that also have an intellectually disability, while there are others that have genius level IQ. The key thing to remember is that every individual with Autism manifests the disorder in different ways.
- Many people diagnosed with Autism can have problems with social cues, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t make friends or have lasting relationships. An autism diagnosis does not mean an individual lacks empathy or sympathy towards others. There are times when individuals with an autism diagnosis have a hard time with understanding how to really connect with others due to not understanding feelings and having high levels of anxiety when it comes to trying to make an emotional connection.
- There is no evidence of autism being caused by early childhood vaccinations. It was suspected for some time that vaccines might cause some forms of autism, but this was proven as inaccurate by studies conducted in 2013 (Drah, 2021). While there may be some environmental causes of autism, vaccines are not one of them.
- Autism is comorbid with other conditions, such as ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and anxiety disorder. There is also a percentage of individuals with autism developing a form of schizophrenia, or even a form of epilepsy (Drah, 2021). Additionally, individuals with Autism are more likely to develop other medical conditions such as diabetes and sleep disorders (Drah, 2021).
- Adults with autism often struggle maintaining stable employment outside their home (Drah, 2021). This does not mean that individuals with Autism cannot be independent or capable of keeping a job outside the home. Often times, high levels of anxiety as well as sensory issues can make it difficult or individuals with an autism diagnosis to find a job that they can keep as well as feel comfortable in. This often depends on the individual and what their specific needs of a job are.
- Many people diagnosed with Autism have sensitivities to lights and sounds. As we mentioned before, Autism is a neurological disorder which leads to many individuals having sensory problems. This doesn’t mean that people with Autism don’t like displays of affection or any types of physical touch. It just means that certain types of touch, sounds, and lights can cause a lot of distress or discomfort.
Autism is a multifaceted diagnosis with many different areas of treatment that must be
addressed. It is important, however, for us as a community and individuals to try and understand the disorder in order to interact properly with and provide quality resources for those who have been diagnosed with the disorder. The most important thing for us a community to keep in mind is that individuals with autism are people who deserve an opportunity to thrive and be independent in our society.