World Autism Awareness Week 2023: Busting The Myths

It is 2023. We are making huge strides in equality and understanding. We are more aware and informed about issues, both scientific and social, in the last ten years than we have ever been. However, even with this information and awareness, the word ‘autism’ usually paints a wrong and stereotyped image in the minds of people. 

Imagine being in a world that tells you something is wrong with you – in how you behave, perceive the world, do things, and feel emotions. This is the harsh reality of people with autism. 

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that usually begins around childhood and affects people across different genders, ethnicities, and classes. It is generally characterized by challenges in communication, repetitive behaviors, and social interaction. 

Autism spectrum disorders are highly misunderstood in the common narrative, often creating an unsupportive environment for those living with them. Awareness about autism rarely proceeds beyond a basic understanding and is often bound by stereotypes, myths, and misconceptions. 

World Autism Awareness Week is marked every year from 27th March to 2nd April to highlight the challenges people with autism face in their daily lives. First recognized by United Nations, the World Autism Awareness Week is now a global event that aims to break down stigmas surrounding the condition and help people gain an understanding of what living with autism actually is. Throughout the week, people around the world come together to build a more inclusive and empathetic society that ensures every individual with autism leads a meaningful life.

To become a part of World Autism Awareness Week, let us look at some of the most widespread myths about autism and understand how to move away from them with facts. 

World Autism Awareness Week

Busting Myths About Autism 

#Myth 1: People with autism are emotionless.

The common stereotype is that people with autism are generally emotionless and cannot express any emotion properly. It is believed that people with autism are somewhat like Star Trek’s Spock – logical and analytical but absolutely emotionless. 

People with autism tend to experience emotions differently. But that does not mean that they lack emotions altogether. It is true that they might struggle with naming their emotions or have difficulty expressing their emotions in a way that other people can easily understand. They also face challenges in understanding the emotions of other people. However, this definitely does not forbid people with autism from experiencing different emotions like any other person. 

#Myth 2: People with autism cannot live independently and need to be institutionalized.

It is common for the mainstream narrative to label people with autism as non-functional, disabled, or highly dependent on others for their existence. In the film Rain Man (1988), Raymond (Dustin Hoffman), a person with autism, is put into an institution by his parents out of fear for the safety of his younger brother. This portrayal from decades ago is not too far from the common beliefs. Many people believe that an autism diagnosis means that the individual needs immediate institutionalization. Autism is seen as synonymous with mental retardation, and the individual is thought to be chronically disabled. 

While there might be people with autism who need support to live their regular lives, this belief that they need to be institutionalized in all cases is undoubtedly false. 

Read more: Wednesday Addams And Her Mental Health Issues

#Myth 3: People with autism have superpowers.

Rain Man is perhaps one of the most significant portrayals of autism in mainstream cinema. However, just like institutionalization, it led to another myth that people with autism are more gifted than others in aspects like memorization, creativity, etc. But as per a study by Darold A. Treffert, only 10% of individuals with autism have abilities like photographic memory, impeccable math skills, or high creativity compared to the 1% in the non-autistic population. 

There is no credible scientific reason behind why people with autism are more likely to have these abilities. Some scientists believe that abnormal brain development in autism might be the reason behind this. 

#Myth 4: People with autism cannot gain education and are therefore unemployable. 

While some people think of people with autism as highly gifted, the rest believe they are uneducable and have severe learning disabilities. This perspective is often combined with the stereotype that people with autism are unemployable and, therefore, a burden on the country’s economy. 

However, as per research by Alisha Ohl, 61.42% of adults with autism are employed and working in their respective fields. Beliefs and misconceptions like these harm the job prospects of people with autism. World Autism Awareness Week is directed to spread awareness about autism in all sectors to ensure that people with autism are given their right to work and earn freely.

#Myth 5: Everyone is a little autistic. 

A lot of people with autism have at some point been told by a friend or well-wisher this – “Everyone is a little autistic.” While these statements might come from a place of concern and empathy, they perpetuate a deeply ingrained myth about the condition. 

You either have autism, or you do not. This phrase is often used to describe the quirks of people with autism. And while you might want to make the person feel included, it is essential to understand that autism is not just defined by behaviors or quirks. It is a neurological condition that affects how a person experiences and perceives the world. To say or believe that we are all a little autistic, in fact, trivializes and short-sells the everyday struggles of people with autism.

Read more: Maladaptive Daydreaming Disorder – Dark Side Of Fantasizing


World Autism Awareness Week is the perfect opportunity to understand and acknowledge the challenges that people with autism face in their daily lives. Autism awareness goes beyond just learning what the condition is. It involves combatting and busting the stereotypes and myths people knowingly or unknowingly believe about autism spectrum disorders. We hope this post will help spread awareness about autism and help us take a small but significant step in forming a compassionate and informed society. 

Now that you know of World Autism Awareness Week, let us take you to another important event. Alzheimer’s And Brain Awareness Day is marked every year on June 21 to encourage awareness about Alzheimer’s and Dementia. To read more about it, click here.

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