Friday, April 25, 2014

Autism misconceptions

When you think of autism, what comes to mind? Rainman? People with savant talents? The media has an impact on how people perieve autism. Some know better and know what it truly means. Unfortunately, it seems like there are masses who only know what they've seen on TV.

Common Misconceptions

1) We are all like Rainman.
-this couldn't be further from the truth. While the character was based on a few of the stereotypical characteristics, he is just that: ONE character. Fictitious, and one person. While some of us may know baseball statistics such as he did, or prefer to watch a show religiously every day, it's not all we do, and not all of us do that. I personally couldn't care less about baseball or its statistics. Now Sonic the Hedgehog, that's a different story :)

2) People with autism are nonverbal.
-this is true in some cases, but not all! In fact, the majority of us do use spoken language. For those who do not, a lot of people assume that they are unable to communicate or are lacking in intelligence. This is totally not the case! There are writers and advocates who do not speak, however carry out powerful messages. Just Google Carly Fleischman.

3) We do not look people in the eye.
-this has to be my pet peeve. I had a psychiatrist tell me that I didn't remind her of an "Asperger patient" because I looked her in the eye. Really? Needless to say, I changed doctors. There are plenty of us who do not struggle with eye contact. Some do, some don't it varies from person to person.

4) We lack empathy.
-it has actually been said that people with autism do not lack empathy, but rather feel it intensely and have difficulty expressing it. I don't experience difficulty in this area. While I can't always see things the way others see them, and can't imagine being anyone else, I can look at things from other people's shoes and try to imagine what they're going through. That's why I'm in the Social Work Field :)

5) We're shy.
-while some people on the spectrum are more reserved, others are social butterflies! I love people! I have difficulty with more of the hidden social aspects, like not being able to read between the lines, literal thinking and not picking up on hidden motives. In my case, it has nothing to do with not wanting to socialize, but rather my genuineness as assumption that everyone else is also genuine.

There are many more misconceptions, bit I'll end it here as this is getting long. What are some you have heard?

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