5 myths about autism and socialising
Written on 5th Aug 2016 by Sylvia Lowery
Alex is now working on his new book about autism and co-occuring conditions. The first chapter he wrote is about socialising. I have found this chapter really interesting and have decided to write down 5 commonly believed myths. The use of the term has autism and autistic is used in this article because Alex likes to use all terms. NT stands for Neuro Typical which means that someone’s brain works the same way as the majority of people.
1. Individuals on the spectrum don’t want friends. This is not true although some like Alex may be wary of a close friendship because they may find it too demanding.
2. Social skills can be taught and mastered so that a person with autism can just fit in. This is a myth even when a person with autism can learn enough social skills to blend this comes at a heavy cost. The effort of ‘pretending to be normal’ can lead to a lot of anxiety and mental health problems. Furthermore social rules are so variable and it takes skills like reading body language and facial expression to get it right. To quote Alex, “socialisation is just too hard.”
3. Getting autistic children to socialise will improve their social skills and ability to make friends. This often doesn’t work because without the right support a lot of children experience bullying and many adult suffer from post traumatic stress because of the stress of just being left to get on with it. It is much better to provide a supportive environment where the young person can be supported through a mentor who can talk through situation and explain social interactions.
4. Autistic individuals lack empathy. Alex struggles to imagine himself in a situation that he has not been in before so yes it is difficult for him to imagine how someone is feeling if he has never experienced something before. Nevertheless Alex can be very empathetic if he has experienced something that someone else is experiencing. It is also true that non NT’s also struggle to imagine what it is like to be autistic so in that way NT’s also lack empathy.
5. Autistic individuals are bad mannered. This is something that is often believed by those who don’t understand autism. The truth is that those on the spectrum jus t view the world in a different way. Social rules are often meaningless and have been developed through one generation to the next without anyone thinking through whether they are logical or sensible. Think about it why do you have to hold a knife and fork in a certain way, or why do you say ‘call round any time’ when you don’t mean it?
Alex says, ” autistic people are always being accused of being rigid and rule based. But NT’s have loads of rules that don’t make sense and they expect everyone to keep to them.”
I hope you found this interesting and please leave a comment and tell me what you think.
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