Myths and facts about Autism

There are many common myths that surround autism. Here we try to separate fact from fiction.

MythReality
Autism (including Asperger syndrome) is a rare condition Autism is no longer seen as a rare condition and is thought to affect around 535,000 people in the UK today
Autism is a new phenomenon The first detailed description of a child we now know had autism was written in 1799 by Jean Itard in his account of the wild boy of Aveyron.
Autism is the result of emotional deprivation or emotional stress Autism is a complex developmental disability involving a biological or organic defect in the functioning of the brain
Autism is due to parental rejection or cold, unemotional parents Autism has nothing whatsoever to do with the way parents bring up their children
A person with autism cannot be educated With the right structured support within and outside of school, individuals with autism can be helped to reach their full potential
People with autism wish to avoid social contact People with autism are often keen to make friends but, due to their disability, find this difficult
People with autism look different from other people Autism is an invisible disability - most people with an autism spectrum disorder look just like anyone else who does not have this condition
Autism is a childhood condition Autism is a lifelong developmental disability with no cure. Children with autism grow up to be adults with autism
All people with autism have a extraordinary ability like the Dustin Hoffman character in the film Rainman People with autism who have an extraordinary talent are referred to as 'autistic savants'. Savants are rare: Between 2 and 3% of the UK population have some degree of learning disability, but only 0.06% of these were initially estimated to possess an unusually high level of specific ability. Savant ability is more frequently associated with those having some form of autism rather than with other disabilities. Current thinking holds that at most 1 or 2 in 200 individuals with an autism spectrum disorder might have a genuine savant talent. However, there is no reliable frequency estimate as yet as there is still no register of people with autism in the UK.