Autism Mythbuster

Santosh Gaikwad
Latest posts by Santosh Gaikwad (see all)

Autism

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that first appears during infancy or childhood, and generally follows a steady course without remission (temporary end to the medical signs and symptoms of an incurable disease) . People with autism may be severely impaired in some respects but normal, or even superior, in others.

Autism is characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior. Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child’s life.These signs often develop gradually, though some children with autism reach their developmental milestones at a normal pace but later start showing the behavior. The diagnostic criteria require that symptoms become apparent in early childhood, typically before age three.
 
Autism is suspected to be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Unusual social development becomes apparent early in childhood. Autistic infants show less attention to social stimuli, smile and look at others less often, and respond less to their own name. Autistic toddlers differ more strikingly from social norms; for example, they have less eye contact and turn-taking, and do not have the ability to use simple movements to express themselves, such as pointing at things.Three- to five-year-old children with autism are less likely to exhibit social understanding, approach others spontaneously, imitate and respond to emotions, communicate non-verbally, and take turns with others.

Misconceptions

The lack of understanding about autism makes it difficult for people to understand the needs and feelings of autistic children.

 

The MYTH of AUTISM
Read: The MYTH of AUTISM

Autism spectrum disorder comes with a whole lot of myths and misconceptions, following are few, with myth buster.

Myth: People with autism don’t want friends.
Truth: Many people with autism want friends, but they may struggle with social skills, making it difficult to interact effectively with peers and form social relationships.

Myth: People with autism don’t have feelings.
Truth: Individuals with autism certainly do have feelings. However, the skills to express and communicate those feelings are often difficult for those with autism to master. They may express their feelings in some unusual ways.

Myth: All individuals with autism are nonverbal.
Truth: Some individuals with autism are nonverbal or non-conversational. However, the autism spectrum also includes individuals who are extremely verbal.

Myth: People with autism who are nonverbal cannot communicate.
Truth: Communication does not necessarily have to involve language; people can communicate through various actions. Nonverbal communication, whether by use of a communication device or some other method, just requires a little more time, effort and patience to master and for others to decipher.

Autistic people are largely typical for their family. They generally have the same strengths and capabilities as most of their peers. Language deficits tend to define and limit them, which has profound social implications.

Myth: People with autism never make eye contact.
Truth: Many people with autism do establish eye contact, although they may have been taught to do so. Some individuals with autism may not choose to make eye contact, because maintaining eye contact is uncomfortable or difficult for them. Eye contact alone is not necessarily a measure of connection or comprehension of what is being said.

Myth: Children with autism are not affectionate.
Truth: Some individuals with autism are indeed affectionate with those they are comfortable with. Other individuals of any age on the autism spectrum may process sensory stimulation differently, causing them to have difficulty expressing affection in conventional ways. But they are capable of giving and receiving affection and love.

Myth: People with autism are a danger to society.
Truth: While there are individuals with autism who from time-to-time may exhibit violent behaviors, those behaviors are almost always caused by frustration, sensory overload, or another similar issue. It is no more likely for a person with autism to act violently out of malice than it is for anyone else in society. There is absolutely no evidence that suggests a linkage between autism and planned violence.

Myth: People with autism can’t take care of themselves, live independently, or hold down a job.
Truth: With support from people that believe in their potential, individuals with autism can achieve great things! Many of them already have. (e.g. Temple Grandin, John Elder Robison, and Jerry Newport to name a few.) Autism Tennessee can direct you to any number of books written by or about individuals with autism who are living happy, fulfilled lives as adults.

Myth: People with autism are intellectually disabled.
Truth: Although some individuals with autism do also have an intellectual disability, many individuals with autism have normal to high IQs. People with autism can have exceptional abilities just as they have limitations.

Autism a newer condition?

While Autism is thought to be a ‘newer condition’, histories and records have revealed that many notable figures in history may have been on the autism spectrum.  Although many reports are technically inconclusive due to the lack of a comprehensive history, many of them have significant evidence to at least point towards a person on the Autistic Spectrum. following are few examples.

Albert Einstein
Einstein had difficulty with social interactions, had tactile sensitivity, was very intelligent yet found his language difficult at times, and had difficulty learning in school.   It may have been that Einstein had such a hard time with learning in school because he did not have the accommodations and different teaching styles that many autistic children need.

Sir Isaac Newton
Newton was very quiet and not very good at ‘small talk’, or typical day to day conversations.  He was extraordinarily focused on his work and had a hard time breaking away.  He was often so focused that he forgot to eat during these times of intense focus.  This is a trait very commonly found in autistic and this extreme focus often blocks out other things that would likely capture an individuals attention.

Charles Darwin
Prof Michael Fitzgerald conducted research on Charles Darwin, and supplied numerous facts supporting his theory that Darwin was autistic. Fitzgerald stated that Darwin was a solitary child, and even as he grew to be an adult, avoided interaction with people as much as he could. He wrote letters often, but did not often partake in face-to-face communication. Writing letters was  his preferred means of communication.  This is similar to other autistic who adopt other ways to communicate that vary from direct speaking.


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