There are lots of myths around SEND. Here we have collated a few and busted them right out of the water!
Myth #1 Autism is caused by bad parenting …
Autism appears to be more common in boys. But girls are more likely to ‘mask’ their autism, learning the skills to interact with the world better than boys. This can mean that many autistic girls get a diagnosis much later in life than boys.Autism is not caused by bad parenting. Research has proved that parenting is not to blame. We are funding studies at the moment to support parents and help them better understand autism. This approach can improve an autistic child’s communication skills. Parenting style can certainly help an autistic child to cope with the world, but it is definitely not the root cause of autistic behaviour. (4)
Myth #2 Autistic people are incapable of empathy or emotions …
Simply put, this is not true either. It is actually a very damaging myth too, because it results in autistic people being treated badly more often on grounds that “they won’t get upset because they have no feelings”.
People with autism- or people who are autistic rather- are still human beings at the end of the day. All human beings experience emotions.
To go into more detail as to why some people may believe in this myth, it is the fact that autism is invisible so the difficulties in an individual’s ability to express and process emotions is not obvious. Just cause autism is invisible doesn’t mean that the person is. (2)
Myth #3 Autism is a mental health condition …
Autism is a neurological difference. This means autistic brains and non- autistic brains work differently when they receive and process information.
Many autistic people do develop mental health problems. About 40% of autists have at least one anxiety disorder.
Autistic people are more likely to experience depression. Mental health issues can often stem from a lack of understanding of autism. (3)
Myth #4 Children with autism just need more discipline …
Autism isn’t a behavioural disorder, but some autistic kids do have challenging behaviours (such as self-injury, aggression, or irritability).
Tactics like corporal punishment or yelling won’t help an autistic child regulate. If anything, it will make things worse!
Autistic kids and their parents need understanding and patience as they work through those
tough moments, not judgment. (5)
Myth #5 Everyone’s a little autistic …
This is a common misconception. Some people have autistic characteristics e.g. being hyper-focused or rigid in routines, but that doesn’t make them autistic.
Autism is about how the brain works. How you think and communicate; how you process information; differences in sensory experiences. Autistic and non-autistic people share many of the same characteristics, but autistic people see and experience the world in a fundamentally different way. (3)
Myth #6 Autism is a “Barrier” …
When people think of autism, it’s mainly the negatives that people think about and therefore associate autism with. Autism poses many challenges, but also has a lot of special benefits to an individuals life and the people around them too.
There is scientific evidence relating to human psychology that means people are more likely to focus on the negative aspects of any given subject, situation or person. Because every situation, subject and person has “good” and “bad” sides.
Also, people’s perception of what is “good” and what is “bad” varies widely from person to person. This is why people view autism in different ways from person to person. (2)
Myth #7 Autism wasn’t around when I was at school …
You don’t just become autistic overnight. You are born autistic. At school you may not have been aware of the neurodiversity around you. Many autistic adults today were not diagnosed until well after they had finished their education. That doesn’t mean that autism wasn’t around when you were at school. It simply means that we didn’t recognise that it was there.
Some autistic people can put on a mask during school or work to try to blend in with other non-autistic people. Known as masking, this can be very tiring and takes a lot of effort. However, some autistic people are skilled at masking and do it to feel comfortable in everyday life. It is an individual choice. (1)
Myth #8 Autistic people like to be on their own. They’re anti social …
Some non-autistic people love socialising, whereas others would prefer a quiet night in with a book. It is the same for autistic people.
Some autistic people find socialising more tiring. Sometimes it can take them time to recover their energy after socialising.
They are not being anti-social. They are actively making an effort to socialise. (3)
Myth #9 Only boys are autistic …
Autism appears to be more common in boys. But girls are more likely to ‘mask’ their autism, learning the skills to interact with the world better than boys. This can mean that many autistic girls get a diagnosis much later in life than boys. (4)