April is Autism Awareness Month and the neurological disorder is still vastly stereotyped in a way that's harmful to those who live with it every day (one of the most common misconceptions about the disorder is that it's mental — it's neurological).
People with autism have difficulty communicating their intelligence, and the severity of the impact that autism has on one's life varies depending on where they lie on the autism spectrum. The symptoms range from mild to heavily debilitating, and there's no cure.
In honor of the month dedicated to a widely misunderstood developmental disorder, it's time to help people with autism fight the myths surrounding their disorder that perpetuate the harmful stigma. Here are four myths about autism that we need to address with corrective facts to end the stereotypes.
Myth: People with autism lack warm emotions. Fact: People with autism feel empathy deeply, sometimes deeper than "normal" people, but sometimes lack the neurological ability to express it normally to others.
Myth: It's impossible to have a warm relationship with people who have autism. Fact: Following signals and letting the person with autism take the lead in conversations and interactions can help them relate to you in a way that will prosper a deep, mutual bond.
Myth: Only people with autism can experience the symptoms of autism. Fact: Autism exists on a continuous spectrum, so even those not diagnosed with autism can experience symptoms associated with the disorder. It has no rigid "cut-off." In other words, autism "shades imperceptibly into eccentric normality," as English psychologist and autism expert/author Lorna Wing put it.
Myth: All autism organizations are supported by autistic people. Fact: Some large-scale autism awareness organizations are often criticized by autistic people for shutting out their voice and spreading the perspective of parents rather than the the perspective of the diagnosed. One organization run by those with the disorder is the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. "Nothing About us Without Us" is their motto.