It’s Autism Awareness Month, which means it’s a good time to take a look at some of the common misconceptions out there about autism spectrum disorder. This information will not only increase your knowledge of the disorder but will also be beneficial when you’re interacting with those who are autistic.
Autism Refers To a Spectrum
Initially, autism was thought to be the name for an all-encompassing disorder. However, years of research have shown that it’s more of a spectrum. There is a wide range of conditions that can have mild to severe symptoms. Generally, an autism spectrum disorder includes having difficulty with communication, speech, social skills, and repetitive behavior.
There Are More People With It Than You Know
According to recent data, the number of people who have been diagnosed with autism has increased over time. It’s estimated that this growing number is likely being caused by increased awareness of the symptoms of the disorder.
The Symptoms Are Apparent In The Early Years
It’s possible to diagnose a child with autism before the age of 4. In fact, the disorder has been identified in children as young as 18 months. The diagnosis is possible because tell-tale signs of autism include developmental delays such as smiling or babbling.
It’s More Likely To Be Diagnosed In Boys
While it’s been estimated that 1 in 68 people have autism spectrum disorder, the data suggests that it’s 4 or 5 times more likely to be diagnosed in boys. It’s uncertain why this discrepancy occurs.
Girls May Be Misdiagnosed or Underdiagnosed
As a follow-up to the previous point, recent data shows that only 1 in 151 girls are being diagnosed with autism. To explain the discrepancy, health experts suggest that the symptoms may manifest a little differently in girls so it’s not as easy to identify. There is also evidence that minorities tend to go underdiagnosed as well.
Verbal Skills Can Develop Over Time
Having issues with communication is one of the well-known characteristics of autism. However, just because someone starts out as being nonverbal, it doesn’t mean that they will stay that way. With the right programs, many people can learn to be functional and even fluent.
The Cause Is Still Being Investigated
It’s been established that vaccines don’t cause autism and it doesn’t seem to be caused by prenatal care either. However, the exact cause of the disorder is still being investigated. The hope is that in the future, it will be easier to determine if a child is going to be autistic.
Treatment Must Be Individualized
Autism spectrum disorder varies from one person to another other and so for treatment to be effective, it has to be personalized. This can lead to treatment options being a little expensive.
The Symptoms Will Vary
When people think of autism, a few symptoms usually come to mind. However, not everyone will exhibit those symptoms and interestingly, people without autism can show behaviors that are typical of autism.
Other Illnesses Can Accompany The Disorder
People who have autism may also develop seizure disorders, metabolic disorders, sleeping disorders, asthma, allergies, cognitive impairments, and digestive disorders, among others.
The Disorder Is Not Degenerative
Unlike other conditions, autism does not get worse over time. If treated regularly, people with autism will actually get better at expressing themselves and maintaining a daily routine.
People With Autism Care About Others More Than You Know
Those with autism might not always be able to express how they are feeling, research shows that they are very empathetic to those who are around them.
Early Interventions Are Important
The earlier people are diagnosed, the earlier their interventions can begin. Research shows that children who start a treatment program early are more likely to see a difference than teenagers or adults.
The Disorder Can Affect Twins Differently
Interestingly, one twin can be diagnosed with autism while the other might not or have a milder case. The difference is generally wider between fraternal twins than between identical ones.
There Aren’t Enough Support Programs
Even though people with autism can hold jobs well and are talented in creative areas such as music or dancing, it can be difficult for them to get the right opportunities. Many support programs end after high school so getting to the next step doesn’t happen for a lot of people with autism.
We still have a long way to go regarding ensuring that people are correctly diagnosed with autism and can get the support they need. In the meantime, knowing how to relate to those who have the disorder can help maintain your interpersonal relationships.