At PediaPlex one thing we know, and are reminded of daily – learning is ongoing and never fully achieved. Meaning, we are ALWAYS learning new things from our young stars as much as we are trying to teach them. So, we never expect anyone to “know it all” when it comes to life along the autism spectrum.
On the spectrum, hard lines are hard to find so it’s difficult to agree with many “every child with autism does this…..” statements. Unsurprisingly, in the public we often hear of the most exaggerated, heart-wrenching cases of ASD. In truth, most ASD parents’ and kiddos’ lives are not so extreme, yet all are wonderfully different.
This month, we hope to clear the path to an intentional and caring understanding of one another. We’ve compiled a list of common autism myths below, and maybe one or two may resonate with each of us:
“Children with autism don’t make eye contact.”
While it is a challenge for some children with ASD others do make eye contact, especially when comfortable with primary caregivers and preferred adults.
“Children with autism don’t speak.”
Some children with autism do speak, others do not. Some can talk, yet struggle to communicate in a fluent,functional manner.
“All children with autism have meltdowns.”
While ASD-related behavioral challenges often carry communication and social challenges, not all children with autism have extended meltdowns or tantrums.
“All children with autism flap their hands.”
Many children with autism engage in high rates of self-stimulatory behavior. The behaviors can take many forms including: hand flapping, spinning items, moving items or fingers in front of eyes, making loud noises, repeating lines from movies or videos, frequent jumping, rocking or swaying, etc.
“Children with autism aren’t social”.
Often children with autism struggle with social skills, but many very much desire social connections. Often, they just need the tools and help learning how to build relationships.
“Every kid with autism is a savant (like Rain Man).”
Some kids with autism do have extraordinary mental abilities and capacities, but not every child does.
“There is a “cure” for autism.”
Right now there is no evidence-based cure for autism. Fads come and go, but early intervention with research-based therapies like ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) are proven to be the most effective way to teach children with autism communication and social skills and reduce challenging behaviors.
“He/she will grow out of it.”
Early intervention is very important in children with autism. Communication delays don’t always mean a child has autism, but it can be one of the earliest noticeable signs. As parents we can be tempted to take a “wait and see” approach. If you have any questions we recommend seeking a professional evaluation sooner to help you decide if your child needs intervention.
Every day is an opportunity to learn and we embrace such a chance to learn from our amazing PediaPlex kiddos! We hope this article leaves you with even a slightly clearer view of what autism is not, so you might know better who these shiny children are.
The PediaPlex Family,