Autism Spectrum Disorders: Myths and Facts
(Excerpt From Autism Spectrum Disorder: Myths and Facts)
Myth: Children and adults with autism spectrum disorders prefer to self-isolate.
Fact: Children and adults with an ASD often want to socially interact but lack the ability to spontaneously develop effective social interaction skills.
Myth: Children and adults with an ASD cannot learn social skills.
Fact: Children and adults with autism spectrum disorders can learn social skills if they receive individualized, specialized instruction and training. Social skills may not develop simply as the result of daily life experiences.
Myth: Autism spectrum disorders are caused by poor parenting or parental behavior.
Fact: Parents do not and cannot cause autism spectrum disorders. Although the multiple causes of all autism spectrum disorders are not known, it IS known that parental behavior before, during and after pregnancy does not cause autism spectrum disorders to develop.
Myth: ASD is a behavioral/emotional/mental health disorder.
Fact: Autism related disorders are developmental disabilities and neuro-biological disorders. These disorders manifest in early childhood (usually before the age of three or four) and are likely to last the lifetime of the person.
Myth: People with autism spectrum disorders cannot have successful lives as contributing members of society.
Fact: Many people with autism spectrum disorders are being successful living and working and are contributing to the well being of others in their communities. This is most likely to happen when appropriate services are delivered during the child’s free, appropriate, public education years.
Myth: Autism spectrum disorders get worse as children get older.
Fact: Autism spectrum disorders are not degenerative. Children and adults with autism should continuously improve. They are most likely to improve with specialized, individualized services and opportunities for supported inclusion. If they are not improving, make changes in service delivery.
Myth: It is better to “wait and see” if a child does better rather than refer the child for a diagnostic assessment.
Fact: The earlier autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed and treated, the better. Outcomes for children’s lives are significantly improved with early diagnosis and treatment. When in doubt, refer, do not wait.
Myth: Autism spectrum disorders are something to be hidden. Other students should not know about the presence of an ASD in a classmate. If you do not tell the other children, they will not know that something is “wrong” with the student with an ASD.
Fact: Students need to know when their classmates have a developmental disability that is likely to effect interactions and learning. Students as young as five years old are able to identify differences in their peers. When students are not given appropriate information, they are likely to draw the wrong conclusions, based on their very limited experiences. Confidentiality rules must be taken into consideration and parental approval sought to teach peers how to understand and interact successfully with children with ASD.
Myth: Certain intensive, behavioral based programs “cure” autism spectrum disorders if they are delivered at the right age and intensity.
Fact: There is no cure for autism spectrum disorders. Early behavior-based interventions have positive effects on some children with autism and less note-worthy effects on other children. Early services need to be based on individual children’s needs and learning styles, not based on programs being sold as “cures” for every child with ASD. Services for adults with the features of autism need to be carefully individualized to the adult.
Myth: Children and adults with autism spectrum disorders are very similar to one another.
Fact: Although all children and adults with autism spectrum disorders have three diagnostic features in common, each child with an ASD is a unique individual. People with autism spectrum disorders differ as much from one another as do all people.
Myth: Children and adults with autism spectrum disorders do not interact very much. They do not have good eye contact. They do not speak well. They are not very bright.
Fact: Children and adults with autism spectrum disorders may speak and/or interact with others. They may have good eye contact. They may be verbal or non-verbal. They may be very bright, of average intelligence or have cognitive deficits.
Pamela Rowe Speech Therapy of Jacksonville provides Speech and Language Therapy for Children, Adolescents and Adults with Autism. Contact us for more information.
About the author
Barbara T. Doyle, MS is a clinical consultant and co-author with her sister Emily Doyle Iland of ASD from A to Z (a Spanish language edition of the book is also available). For more information about the book, go to http://www.asdatoz.com.