Myths of Autism

October 20, 2015

Information about autism is easily accessible through a quick google search to reputable sites like Milestones, Autism Speaks and  However, common misconceptions still linger about this neurological disorder.  Let’s look at some of the myths about this disorder that have perpetuated.

  • Myth – Autism has become an epidemic.  Reality – One theory? Some researchers speculate that the rise in autism diagnoses has more to do with better diagnostic methods. Plus, the diagnosis of autism has expanded to include autism spectrum disorders, which encompass more symptoms and conditions, and thus more cases. There has been a rise in the cases of autism. The rate of autism has increased by 600% in the last 20 years. In 1975, an estimated 1 in 1,500 had autism. In 2009, an estimated 1 in 110 had an autism spectrum disorder.
  • Myth – Autistic children don’t communicate. Reality – There is a wide range of communication abilities in children with autism.  Most children with autism do communicate either verbally, through cards or sign language.
  • Myth – Children with autism are violent.  Reality – While sensory overload can lead to acting out in autistic individuals, violence is not a usual occurrence.
  • Myth: Autism is caused by vaccines. Reality – There is no evidence that childhood vaccination causes autism.  A 1998 study linking autism with vaccines has since been retracted.
  • Myth: Autism can be cured. Reality – There is currently no cure for autism spectrum disorders.
  • Myth: Therapies for people with autism are covered by insurance.
    Reality –   Most insurance companies exclude autism from the coverage plan and only half of the 50 states currently require coverage for treatments of autism spectrum disorders.
  • Myth: Autism is caused by bad parenting. Reality –  In the 1950s, a theory called the “refrigerator mother hypothesis” arose suggesting that autism was caused by mothers who lacked emotional warmth. This has long been disproved.

Sources – Autism Speaks, WGBH PBS,