5 Dangerous Myths About High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome

So going off of my last post, I finally decided to post my reactions to some of the most common myths about those with Asperger’s and High Functioning Autism in general. I’m appalled by how widely believed these myths are, and I’m hoping to shed some light on the truth, coming from the perspective of an Aspie/Autistic woman. 🙂

Myth #1: Those with autism or Asperger’s react the same way to all sensory input, including tastes, textures, sounds, etc.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked with people who believe this myth. Quite a few people have heard that those on the autism spectrum have some sensory processing issues, but they wrongly assume that this means that ALL sensory input causes us issues. The truth is that it depends on each individual person. Most people on the spectrum don’t have an issue with all input, but rather specific sounds, tastes, textures, etc. This is the same for me. I only have issues with a few tastes, such as onions and raw tomatoes. When it comes to textures, the only ones that bother me are really rough or scratchy textures, but everything else is perfectly fine with me. In regards to sounds, humming, loud unexpected noises, scratching, and scraping bug me. I do not freak out at every sound, taste, or texture that I encounter. However, if I’m bombarded with lots of different sensory inputs in a short amount of time, I can get extremely stressed out, but this is common among most who are on the spectrum. You should also keep in mind that we experience most sensory input stronger than those who aren’t on the spectrum, but we do not hate all of it and actually quite enjoy some tastes, textures, and sounds.

Myth #2: Those on the autism spectrum hate people and have no desire to interact or form relationships.

This is probably one of the most damaging myths that I’ve encountered. I know that for me, as well as most all of the others on the spectrum that I’ve talked to, we desire friendships and relationships, but just lack the social skills and understanding to properly form them. I would love nothing more than to have quite a few friends and acquaintances, but I often try to stay away from people (not because I don’t like people), because I have trouble with nonverbal communication, understanding humor, deciding what is appropriate to say, etc. These kinds of issues can create difficulties in cultivating relationships. So please don’t think that we don’t want friendships, we do but it is a painful process for us.

Myth #3: Those on the spectrum have no emotions whatsoever. 

This is another incredibly dangerous myth. I encounter a lot of people who think that autism means that you can’t feel anything, and are pretty much an emotionless robot. This is definitely not true! We often experience emotions that are more intense than those experienced by people not on the spectrum, but we often just have difficulties expressing these emotions. I know that for me, I can be extremely excited or upset or happy or sad but to those who see me I look stoic. It’s difficult for us to properly express emotions. We don’t always know how we should display these emotions to others through our body language, or if it is the proper time to display such emotions, etc. We are most certainly not emotionless robots!!!

Myth #4: Asperger’s or High Functioning Autism is just an excuse for individuals to be lazy and not try socially, or get away with being rude.

Yes, people actually believe this myth. I find it appalling. I really do. It’s disturbing that people trivialize my trials and social issues by labeling me as lazy and rude. It’s horrible. Unless you are on the spectrum, you have NO idea what a challenge being autistic is day in and day out. It’s difficult and stressful and emotionally draining. Yes, I try to work to improve my social skills. No, it’s not easy. I’m trying to learn despite having a brain that isn’t wired in the way that everyone else’s is. It’s a battle every day to adapt and learn what everyone else already knows instinctively. Mistakes that I make in the social realm linger with me for years and I feel anguish every time I screw up. So no, I’m not lazy or rude. I just have a brain that is different than yours and makes it difficult to understand proper social interaction.

Myth #5: Those who have High Functioning Autism or Asperger’s can’t amount to anything and are stupid.

Another appalling myth. I know several people on the spectrum who are geniuses and more intelligent than most people who aren’t on the spectrum. I myself am an aspiring forensic scientist. Most of us on the spectrum have a special interest which we obsessively learn about. Mine happens to be forensic science. A lot of us also have an intelligence that is above average. A lot of us can make excellent experts in the area of our special interest. Yes, we are capable of holding down jobs if given the proper help and if those around us take the time to understand us. We aren’t useless, or stupid, not at all. Never let that thought cross your mind!

 

 

2 thoughts on “5 Dangerous Myths About High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome

  1. Great post! And good luck in your Forensic studies! Forensic Science was actually the first thing I majored in College (1991) but didn’t finish–a long list followed that major as well. Now I am proud to announce that I am only 10 classes from graduation (BA in English/History) so as you can see sometimes our special interest (obsessions..heehee) change! I do still love reading and watching everything forensic related on television though!

  2. Meghan, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I have a brother who’s high functioning and I constantly struggle to understand him. But I’m doing much better. It seems the older I get the more and more I understand his world. He’s in school studying engineering and I really hope someone out there will give him a chance to prove that he is truly a valuable person and would make an excellent employee. I think companies are starting to see the value in hiring people on the spectrum and if they’re not, they will soon. Keep the articles coming, this is great! You’re doing the world a great favor by allowing us a glimpse of your world. This is the only way others will begin to understand.

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