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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a common topic that is often discussed. From a simple Google search, you can find unlimited information about ASD that is scientific, as well as opinion based.  With the power of the internet, and it giving people the ability to express their research, beliefs, and views at any time, there is not only a mass amount of factual information but also a substantial amount of false information as well.  In our previous pieces on “The Spectrum,” we’ve focused on many different topics regarding ASD, from treatments to signs. Like anything else, ASD is surrounded by myths and non-factual information; here are a few major myths and misconceptions surrounding ASD:

People with ASD are Anti-Social

Many children and adults with ASD struggle to build and maintain relationships due to different challenges surrounding their ability to communicate.  Because of this, they may come off as shy, or even unfriendly. This may give others who may not understand ASD the wrong impression. Children and adults with ASD often want to create relationships with others, just as someone who isn’t on the spectrum might.  It’s important to remember, that a person with ASD may find difficulty navigating a relationship, but often still desires social interaction, or simply making friends. If you know someone with ASD, keep this in mind as you work on communicating with them. It may take a little more time and effort, but relationships and friendships can be very beneficial for a person on the spectrum.

People with ASD Can’t Express or Understand Emotions

Similar to the assumption that individuals with ASD don’t want to be social or build relationships, another common misconception is that children and adults with ASD cannot express or understand emotion.  While many individuals with ASD find it challenging to understand the emotions of others, or even communicate their own, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are completely unable.  A person that isn’t on the spectrum may be able to tell if you’re noticeably upset just by looking at your facial expressions or body language. However, someone with ASD may find it difficult to tell just by body language.  When emotions are communicated directly, people with ASD have a much better opportunity to understand the emotion being expressed, and how they should react to it.

All People with ASD are the Same

One of the greatest myths surrounding ASD is that all individuals with the disorder are the same, or function the same.  It’s quite the contrary. ASD is not a disorder that is the same for everyone. There are different levels of severity, and some individuals may experience completely different signs than others.  For example, while one person may be non-verbal, or extremely limited in their ability to verbally communicate, another may have the full ability to communicate verbally, with little struggle. It’s always important to remember that everyone is different, and ASD can come in many forms.