Understanding AutismAutism affects more than 1 in 100 of the UK population.

When it comes to myths and misconceptions, children and adults on the autism spectrum get their fair share of false impressions, such as:
People with autism cannot make eye contact - some people with autism struggle to use eye contact as they find social interaction more generally quite difficult. On the other side of the coin, lots of people with autism overuse eye contact
People with autism prefer to be left alone - misunderstanding of social expectations can mean that an individual withdraws in order to reduce negative experiences and discomfort, not necessarily because they do not want to interact with others
People with autism do not show affection - similarly affection is very often expressed by individuals with autism, this just might not be as others would expect
Inside a person with autism is a potentially non-autistic person just waiting to be reached - there is no cure for autism and whilst effective intervention can mean that an individual's experience and outcomes can be 'improved', they will still experience the challenges that autism can bring to everyday life
Autism is caused by poor parenting - it is vital to stress that autism is identified in all nationalities, races, cultures, classes of society etc. and is not the result of parenting
Autism is caused by the MMR vaccination - the research that 'proved' this (and got significant media publicity) has been demonstrated to be flawed. Whilst the exact cause of autism is not known, there is significant evidence that genetic factors are the dominant causative agent and not external determinants such as an immunisation.

(Source: Understanding Autism: A training pack for support staff and professionals based on ‘Postcards from Aspie World’, Redfearn et al. 2016)

Debunking myths about autism

The National Autistic Society (NAS) works tirelessly to debunk some of the aforementioned misconceptions and have published these useful statements and statistics based on their own research:

Autism is a serious, lifelong and disabling condition - Without the right support, it can have a profound - sometimes devastating - effect on individuals and families
Autism doesn't just affect children - Autistic children grow up to be autistic adults.
Autism is a hidden disability - you can't always tell if someone has it
While autism is incurable, the right support at the right time can make an enormous difference to people's lives
34% of children on the autism spectrum say that the worst thing about being at school is being picked on
63% of children on the autism spectrum are not in the kind of school their parents believe would best support them
17% of autistic children have been suspended from school; 48% of these had been suspended three or more times; 4% had been expelled from one or more schools.
(Source: autism.org.uk)

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