Common Misconceptions about Autism Deconstructed

There are many reasons why it’s important to educate ourselves about autism. For one, it’s a common neurodevelopmental disorder, characterized by impaired social cognition and communication with others. The diagnosis of autism can mean very different things to a family’s life. Many children are diagnosed with mild to moderate autism which only slightly impacts their learning and socializing, while other parents are told that their child’s severe autism limits their independence, which will affect their entire life. Since autism is so misunderstood, we’re here today to clarify some common misconceptions which should set you on the road to being a better and more understanding person when conversing with a person affected by autism.

1. It can be caused by vaccinations

This theory gained popularity for a few different reasons. The first article citing vaccines as a possible cause for autism was published in The Lancet — which itself is a reliable source — but it was later revealed the the scientist who authored the story was secretly on the payroll of the anti-vaccine industry. Then, the information from the study was picked up and disseminated by different celebrities, who have a much broader reach than the average scientist. Jenny McCarthy was a prominent anti-vaxxer, as was Jim Carrey and Toni Braxton. The theory that vaccines can cause autism has been entirely debunked.

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2. People with autism can’t express emotions

This commonly-held belief, that people with autism cannot express emotions, is entirely false and is actually very dangerous. Can you imagine thinking that someone who speaks a different language than you are incapable of rational thought or feeling? To some people who have autism, it sometimes feels like they are not able to communicate effectively with people who are neurotypical, but this doesn’t mean that they don’t have feelings. It just means that they express them in different ways.

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