Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that manifests in the form of difficulties in social interaction and communication as well as restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour. ASD is considered as a “spectrum” disorder because individuals on the spectrum vary greatly with regards to the range of symptoms and severity of the disorder.
ASD usually manifests in the early years of life and is usually apparent by age 5. The WHO estimates that one in 160 children falls on the autism spectrum. Because the profile of diagnosed individuals varies so greatly, as well as lack of awareness, there are many myths about autism. Some of these prevalent myths will now be deconstructed.
The growing anti-vaxxer movement has contributed to this myth, with allegations that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine causes autism. However, no rigorous large scale study has given credence to this myth.
This myth is not entirely untrue. While some individuals with autism have an intellectual disability, others have IQs that fall in the typical or above-average range. What is true is that for many children with autism, typical procedures for measuring IQ are not applicable, which may cause difficulties in IQ testing or misreport of scores.
There is presently no cure for autism spectrum disorder, and once diagnosed, people will remain on the spectrum throughout their lives. However, with early intervention, most individuals with autism can lead a full and successful life.
As mentioned previously, autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that those diagnosed with autism show a wide range of symptoms at varying levels of severity. Every individual with autism is unique and may have their special topic of interest.
While people with autism may experience difficulties expressing emotions, it does not mean that they don’t experience the full range of emotions. Individuals with autism show affection and emotions differently, and often have strong bonds with people who are important to them.
Moreover, it is important to remember that rather than focusing on the so-called limitations of ASD, autism also brings certain positives. People with autism often show enhanced attention to detail, observational skills, creativity and recall than the general population.
Additionally, individuals on the spectrum may often take novel approaches to address problems and may also be more accepting of differences (Bennie, 2019).
To conclude, ASD is a complex and nuanced disorder and no two people with ASD are alike. With the help of love, support and timely intervention, individuals with ASD can develop the social and behavioural skills to live fulfilling lives.