Autism Awareness Day: Debunking myths about autism

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 2007 adopted a resolution to commemorate World Autism Awareness Day annually on April 2.

The day serves as a platform to educate the general public about the importance of raising awareness of the disorder and taking the initiative to familiarize everyone with the nature of people with autism.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is categorized as a neurodevelopmental disorder under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), characterized by differences in the brain that cause social interaction problems, restrictive or repetitive behaviors, and divergent learning patterns.

For 17 years, the UN managed to take strides in forwarding its cause. Still, in staying in line with its main goal to continue forwarding the cause to educate, CDN Digital amplifies the proven truths about the disorder and highlights the myths debunked by recent and longstanding scientific findings about autism.

Myth No. 1: Autism is a mental health disorder

The recent publication of DSM categorizes Autism as a neurodevelopmental disorder, which means that dozens of studies prove that people with autism have abnormalities in their brain structure and neurotransmitter production. It has debunked the misconception that environmental factors might cause it.

Myth No. 2: Vaccines cause autism

The belief of some people, mainly from the United States that vaccinating children causes autism originated in a 1998 study published in a medical journal. Some did not know that the said publication was critically flawed and retracted by both authors.

Years of autism research have been dedicated to proving that vaccination does not cause the disorder. In fact, no existing papers have proven what exactly causes the progression of autism.

READ MORE: Autism Consciousness Week: Beyond awareness, advocates aspire for genuine inclusion of persons with autism

Myth No. 3: People with autism are cold and anti-social

It should be highlighted that autism is fully labeled as ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder’ mainly because it compromises a wide manifestation of neurodevelopmental disorders. While problems with social cues generally characterize the disorder, some people diagnosed with the disorder manage to keep up socially due to the minor severity of the disorder’s manifestation.

People diagnosed with autism are also falsely believed to be cold and emotionless, which is generally untrue because most, if not all, of them, can feel emotions and even learn how to love other people.

Myth No. 4: All people diagnosed with autism have savant skills

While some people with autism are popularly depicted with highly gifted skills, including the likes of Dr. Shaun Murphy in “The Good Doctor” with photographic memory, the case is not true for all people diagnosed with the disorder.

According to studies, only around 10 percent of people with autism have savant skills, which is caused by their divergent learning abilities, allowing them to remember and learn information swiftly in their own learning pattern.

Myth No. 5: Autism has a cure

As of writing, there is no definite cure for autism. People diagnosed with the disorder can not just grow out of it. Nonetheless, there are existing behavioral therapy approaches used to teach people diagnosed with autism how to traverse the social environment and limit their repetitive or restrictive behaviors.

READ ALSO: Direk Jason Paul Laxamana na-diagnose ng Asperger’s Syndrome: ‘I am on the autism spectrum…I cried after my session with the psychiatrist’

There is still a lot of work to do to raise further awareness about autism, most especially in indigenous and far-reaching communities.

However, the world, led by the UN, has come so far in terms of forwarding autism research and educating the general public about people with autism, their experiences, and how to interact with them.

TAGS: autism, awareness, Myths
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