Facts and myths about autism

Autism affects more than 1 in 100 people – fact. Over 700,000 people in UK are diagnosed as autistic, which means that 2.8m people have a relative on the autism spectrum. It is estimated that the figures are actually far higher

People tend to 'grow out' of autism in adulthood – myth. It's a lifelong condition – autistic children become autistic adults. This myth is likely to stem from autistic people learning to ‘mask’ traits in order to fit in

Autism affects both boys and girls – fact. There is a popular misconception that autism is simply a male condition. This is false, and it is likely that just as many females are affected

Some autistic people don't speak – fact. Some autistic people are non-verbal and communicate through other means. However, everyone’s autism is different, and autistic some autistic people are very eloquent

Autism is a mental health problem – myth. Autism is a difference in how your brain works. Autistic people can have good mental health, or experience mental health problems, just like anyone else

People with autism don’t have empathy – myth. People with autism can be highly empathic, sensitive and emotionally intelligent. This myth is likely to stem from many autistic people not showing emotion, or having a delayed or inappropriate response. However, this is usually down to differences in how the brain processes information. Just because someone doesn’t show a response,

Autistic people are geniuses – myth. Between a quarter and a half of all people with an autism diagnosis also have a learning disability. Others have an IQ in the average to above average range. 'Savant' abilities like extraordinary memory are rare, but differences in how autistic people process information, can lead to differences which appear amazing to non-autistic people

Everyone is a bit autistic – myth. While everyone might recognise some autistic traits or behaviours in people they know, to be diagnosed with autism, a person must consistently display behaviours across all the different areas of the condition. Just having a fondness for routines, a good memory or being shy doesn’t make a person 'a bit autistic'

Autism is a hidden disability – fact. You can't always tell if someone is autistic and some people would argue that autism needn't necessarily a disability at all

(credit: www.autism.org.uk)