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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Marking Autism Awareness Month

By Sarah Lyons

"Autism is a developmental disability that is caused by differences in how the brain functions. People with Autism may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in different ways.” About 1 in 59 children have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to the CDC. While autism may be common, there are myths and misinformation circulating that are simply untrue. This article will correct some of the most common misconceptions.

Myth No. 1: Autism is caused by vaccinations. One of the common misconceptions about ASD is that childhood vaccinations, such as MMR, cause kids to develop autism. According to the CDC and the Institute of Medicine, there is no link between vaccines and autism. 

Myth No. 2: People with autism are geniuses. There is a common misconception that all people with autism are geniuses, can do difficult math problems in their heads, or have a special gift. It is true, some people with autism do have unique talents and gifts. However extreme cases, like the one seen in the movie Rainman, are rare. As our understanding of autism progresses, it is acknowledged that many people with autism have high intelligence, great attention to detail, and view the world in a different way that is valued in work environments. This opens a new set of opportunities in the workforce for people with autism. 

Myth No. 3: People with autism don’t want friends. It is true that many people with autism struggle to understand social norms which may cause them to feel isolated or to value alone time more than group settings. The myth here is that people with autism do not want friends or value close relationships, they do. Everyone needs friends, attention, love, and acceptance and all people deserve it as well. People with autism may need friends that are understanding and supportive of their social struggles and may benefit from support groups that help them build social skills. 

Myth No. 4: People with autism don’t experience emotions. Those who have autism may find it hard to understand other people’s feelings and read body language, but that does not mean they do not have emotions themselves. They have feelings of joy, sadness, anger, and frustration just like everyone else. They may have trouble expressing their emotions or show them differently than others but they still experience normal highs and lows.

Myth No. 5: Autism can be cured. Over the years, as ASD diagnosis have become more common, there have been many ideas about how it can be cured. Some examples include removing gluten from the diet, taking vitamins, eliminating mercury from the diet, and other fads. Parents typically turn to these ideas because the are concerned for their children and desperate for a cure. Studies have shown that none of these fads have worked and autism cannot be cured. What is encouraging are the positive changes that can come from behavioral therapy that helps kids develop communication and social skills and give people the tools to succeed in school and the workforce. 

People with autism do respond differently to many situations but as we learn more about ASD, we find that not all of the characteristics are negative and people can be happy, successful, and maintain healthy relationships with support and understanding from people around them.


Sarah Lyons is a mom of six children, including 9-year-old triplets. While she is an extrovert, she is a wife and mother to several introverts. She strives to encourage her kids to step out of their comfort zones while also celebrating their unique personalities.