7 Biggest Myths About Autism That Should Be Debunked

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Myth 1: All children with autism are brilliant.

Actually it is not. According to world studies, children with Savant’s syndrome (autists who have an “island of genius”) – no more than 10% of all children with autism spectrum disorders. However, British scientists who conducted a survey of parents of children with autism believe that there are more than 30% of such children. The main genius abilities in people with savantism relate to arithmetic and music.

Myth 2: If a child has autism, he will not become “normal” anymore, everything is meaningless

This is not true. The main direction of helping children with autism around the world is its early diagnosis and immediate inclusion in the early intervention program. The sooner a specialist identifies autism and begins to help the child, the better the prognosis. If it is possible to determine autism at the age of 1.5 – 2 years, then in the presence of a complex correction by school age, only some of its features may remain (for example, isolation). There are many examples of people with autism who have excelled in their field, such as Professor Stephen Shore or Professor Temple Grandin.

Myth 3: Children with autism are more sick

Rather, children with autism have physical health characteristics. For example, these children are more likely to have allergies, sleep disturbances, and intestinal problems. But they get colds with the same frequency as other children.

Myth 4: Children with autism are afraid of everyone – even their own mother.

Children with autism have a fairly wide range of fears and phobias. There is a theory that children with autism are born in a hypersensory environment. That is, due to the defeat of certain areas of the brain, they cannot distinguish the main sounds from the side ones (the so-called “cocktail party” effect), the main visual images from the non-main ones. Therefore, factors that we do not even catch, such as a soft noise or the flickering of a fluorescent lamp, can frighten a child with autism. Moreover, the aura of fear extends not only to the very cause of fear, but also to the environment surrounding the child at that moment. People, their clothes, interior items or place on the street, the sounds accompanying the moment of fear, and other factors also become objects that cause fear. The fixation on the feeling of fear is so pronounced that it can persist for years after a traumatic situation. Given the fact that an autistic child, due to a communication disorder, cannot convey to his parents the reason for his fear, for moms and dads, these experiences seem groundless, but this is not so.

Myth 5: Children with autism are more likely to scream in public and throw tantrums.

Tantrums, like aggression in children with autism, are always defensive. It arises when trying to include them in emotional interaction, violation of the boundaries of personal space or violation of the ritual behavior, that is, everything that is not clear, understandable or not necessary for a child with autism. To end the tantrum, it is enough to free up the child’s personal space and not interfere with the implementation of his ritual behavior.

Myth 6: Autistic children cannot have healthy children.

Currently, the gene responsible for the development of autism has not been identified. However, in many studies, the genetic nature of autism spectrum disorders is given great attention. So if in a pair of twins one child has autism, then the probability that the second will have it is 70%. If the family has an older child diagnosed with autism, then the likelihood of its occurrence in the younger depends on the gender of the children. For example, if the older sister is diagnosed, then the probability of developing autism in the younger brother is 16.7%, if the opposite is true (the older boy has autism, and the younger girl), then the risk is 4.2%.

Myth 7: There were no autists before, it’s all because of the hormones in the products / vaccinations / the Internet / IVF and so on

In 2018, refusal to vaccinate was included in the top 10 threats to human health, according to WHO. Vaccination is currently one of the risk factors for autism that have not been confirmed from the point of view of evidence-based medicine, that is, despite many studies, the relationship could not be identified.

As it was not possible to reveal in the studies the relationship between IVF and risk factors for the development of autism. However, if the IVF procedure is supplemented with ICSI (artificial injection of sperm directly into the egg, complicated IVF scheme – ed.), then this is a possible risk factor for the development of autism.

Also, another factor in the development of autism, which is currently being investigated, is the environmental situation. In 2014, American scientists published a study, the purpose of which was to study the influence of environmental factors on the risk of developing childhood autism. The main direction of this study was to study the correspondence between the possibility of malformations of the genitourinary system in children with the incidence of autism. According to researchers, some of these birth defects are associated with poor ecology, and more precisely with the presence of pesticides, lead, plasticizers and other synthetic molecules in the environment. As a result of the study, it was found that for every percent increase in congenital malformations of the reproductive system in boys in the study region, the incidence of autism increased by 283%! It was found that the frequency of these malformations is directly related to the labor activity of the mother during pregnancy. For example, if a mother worked as a janitor, maid or landscape designer, that is, she was more closely in contact with adverse environmental factors, then the frequency of congenital malformations of the reproductive system, and therefore autism, is higher in her child than if she worked as a teacher.

Photo: Vostock Photo

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