The Truth About Harmful Misconceptions of an Autism Diagnosis

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Despite growing representation and improved public perception, autism is still widely misunderstood by the general population. Enhancing autism understanding and awareness is crucial to ensure people receive proper support and eliminate the aspects that hinder progress.

Addressing the harmful misconceptions of autism diagnosis is the first step to increasing awareness. As one researcher stated, “Media representations of talent and special abilities can be said to have contributed to a harmful divergence between the general image of autism and the clinical reality of the autistic condition.”1

These false understandings hurt people with autism and their loved ones. The more you learn about the myths and realities of autism, the more you can do to contribute to breaking down barriers.

What is Autism?

Autism, also called autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a neurological developmental disorder that affects communication, social interaction, learning abilities, and behavior.2 Symptoms of autism typically appear by age two, but the condition is diagnosable at any age.

People with autism tend to experience:

  • Difficulties communicating and interacting with other people
  • Narrow but intense scope of interest
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Symptoms that impact functioning at school, work, or other parts of daily life

People with autism experience a wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms they experience. This spectrum of symptoms and severity led to the umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.

Misconceptions of Autism Diagnosis

The following misconceptions about autism diagnosis are some of the many that pervade public perception of people with the condition.3 Learning to recognize myth from reality is a great way to support people with autism and their loved ones.

All people with autism experience the same difficulties and skills

Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning people with the condition experience a variety of symptoms and severity. It is not the one-size-fits-all condition that many perceive it to be. Each person has differences in the ways they communicate, their social interactions, and their sensory needs. Support should always be tailored to the individual.

People with autism have an intellectual disability

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that may cause a range of intellectual disabilities in some individuals. Not everyone with autism experiences severe intellectual impacts. Some people with the condition may experience intellectual difficulties, others have IQ scores that fall within typical ranges, and still others’ scores trend higher.

People with autism are nonverbal

Because autism exists on a spectrum, every person with the condition communicates differently. Some children speak sooner than others, while some never develop communication skills. Like other symptoms of autism, verbal communication abilities depend on the individual and do not apply across the board.

People with autism aren’t capable of forming meaningful relationships

This may be one of the most harmful misconceptions of autism diagnosis. People with autism are not entirely incapable of interacting and building relationships. They may experience varying levels of difficulty with these skills but most form at least a few strong bonds with the important people in their lives.

Finding Support for Autism

Informed and effective support for autism spectrum disorder can reduce the severity of symptoms and improve a person’s ability to function in daily life. Autism treatment at Pasadena Villa understand the varying approaches needed to work with individuals who have autism spectrum disorder.

We offer individualized treatment programs tailored to the specific needs of you or your loved one. If you’re looking for a program offering comprehensive support and care for autism spectrum disorder, Pasadena Villa can help. Please reach out to us today at 407-215-2519 to learn about our programs, facilities, and more.



  1. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. (2009). Stereotypes of autism.
  2. National Institute of Mental Health. (2022). Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  3. Autism Association of Western Australia. (2022). Autism Myth Busters.

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