Check out my first blog of myths 1-5 here. I’ve previously explained that there are many stereotypes about autistic people brought about, primarily by the media. Assuming that all autistic people are the same leads to stigma and discrimination. By writing this blog, I’m attempting to break some of this down!
Myth no. 6—Autistic people can’t work
The world of work is an incredibly inaccessible place. This doesn’t mean autistic people don’t work, it means we work under extreme pressures and may need to spend time hunting for work opportunities that suits are skills and needs. Autistic people have a huge variety of skills that would benefit many workplaces but even the interview process is inaccessible.
While some autistic people can’t work, it is known that the majority want to. Only 22% of autistic adults are in work—of those who are, many are under-employed i.e. they want to and could do more more challenging/better paid role if given support but it simply isn’t available. Read more statistics in the The Autism Act, 10 years on.
Food for thought—how could you make your workplace more autism friendly? Find out more about autism in the workplace here.
Myth no. 7—Intimate relationships are impossible for autistic people
While relationships can be hard, with shared understanding and acceptance, a range of relationships including the most intimate relationships are possible. Autistic people can enjoy a wide range of relationships and need connection, just like neurotypical people.
Myth no. 8—Autistic people have learning difficulties
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder, not a learning disability. While there are certain areas we struggle with, it’s not the same as having learning difficulties.
- 4 in 10 autistic people also have a learning disability (compared to 0.5% of the general population).
- 8 in 10 autistic people experience mental health issues in their life (compared to 1 in 4 of the general population).
- Autistic people are 1.5-4.3 times as likely than the general population to have physical health conditions such as low blood pressure, arrythmias, asthma, diabetes and chronic pain conditions.
Myth no. 9—Autistic people don’t have empathy
Much autistic research is decades out of date. It has previously been thought that autistic people are not capable of theory of mind, that is, an inability to understand that other people perceive the world differently. Many neurotypical people are lacking in empathy, this is, they aren’t able to pick up on what other people are thinking or feeling. Within the autistic community, there are people who don’t have empathy for others, however, a very high number of highly sensitive empaths are also found in the autistic community. An empath is someone who naturally feels what someone else feels. This can be incredibly draining as other people’s emotions can be powerful and feel uncontrollable.
Myth no. 10—Autistic people can’t communicate
A lot of emphasis is placed on verbal communication. Between 25% and 35% of autistic people are considered minimally verbal, however, it’s difficult to define minimally verbal (hence the range in values).
When supported, communication can take a number of forms. Signing and gesturing as well as various technological forms of communication can be used effectively. Technology may use a sequence of pictures or written language may be used.
I hope the 2 blogs I’ve written have helped to dispel some inaccurate stereotypes/myths around autism. It’s so important this is an on going conversation—the assumptions we can make can be damaging but having open honest discussions can build trust and connection between us all.