Thursday, 26 May 2016

Autistic Mythbusters

We get a lot of untrue things stated as 'facts' about autism.  Often from research done decades ago, before we had any clue what it is, or isn't.

For example, "BACKGROUND: Autism currently affects 1 in 68 children. Boys are four times more likely to have autism than girls. About 40 percent of children with autism do not speak, and about 25-30 percent of children have some words at 12 to 18 months of age and then lose them. Autism is a neurological development disability that generally appears before the age of 3. It impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communication skills."

Well, no.  The underlying data shows it's about 1 in 30, not 1 in 68.
There are multiple gender identifications with autism, not just male/female. 

There are as many autistic females as males, but we've been rubbish at diagnosing them.
The statistics on how many of us speak are decades out of date.  The huge majority of autistic people speak.  Perhaps not always, perhaps not using the same language structure as the majority.  Perhaps 'speaking' using technology.

The myths about how many autistic children regress have very recently been debunked by science, which also noted many non-autistic children regress for a while.  It appears to be a natural part of autism brain development in many/most cases, they muse.
It's a neurodiversity, mostly made into a disability by a society that disables us continually, then blames us for it.
We have a normal development of the brain for autistic people, and socialising/communicate autistically, rather than in the ways that most other people do.  This is not a broken way of socialising.  It's a different way.  When enabled to thrive as #actuallyautistic people, most of us do really well.

So, here are some surprising facts.
Well, apparently surprising to some.
Probably half of autistic people are female.
Autism is not a mental health condition. It is in the Psychiatry manuals because Psychiatrists diagnose brain function differences as well as mental health conditions.
Autism is permanent. One does not outgrow it or cure it. One can be taught an exhausting way to disguise it in front of others, so others can be less prejudiced about us. That is not a cure. That is about others and their reaction to us. Some were misdiagnosed as autistic, which explains any genuine 'outgrowing' of it.
Autism has always existed. It is part of human diversity.
A third of autistic people in surveys says they are LGBTQ.
Autism often has positives. Honesty. Integrity. Morality. Fairness. Passionate focus. Extreme expertise in areas of work. Passionate about social justice. Able to keep asking for fairness.  Senses that often are better at detecting things. Generalising, but all backed by research. It would be an advantage in ancient village settings, for example. It is not an advantage in busy noisy socially-obsessed modern society.
Only 1.6% of autistic people in the UK is in a care home.  I did the research for this.
We are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Autism does not cause deliberate violence. At all.
70% of us do not have mostly 'meltdowns'. We have shutdowns.  Many have no 'meltdowns' at all.
We are no more likely to have a low IQ than anyone else.  The old statistics were from decades ago, before we found the vast majority of autistic people.  We're still finding more and more.  It was just really easy to find the ones with very low IQ or other really noticeable differences.
We are not 'challenging'. We are different. Sometimes we are distressed because we are overwhelmed, afraid, exhausted, in pain.  Usually cause by someone misunderstanding autism and our sensory/routine/communication needs.
We may be in extreme pain and fear in some situations. Understandably we may wish for that to stop. Understandably, people in pain and fear may not be listening too well. This is not 'challenging behaviour' by us.
We cannot see the expressions of others in 'real time'. This may lead to misunderstandings. These are not anything to do with deliberate cruelty or lack of caring.
We will communicate differently. This is not cruelty, lack of caring, or rudeness by us.
Repetitive movement or sound is part of autism, not a 'stereotypy' that needs 'retraining'. Unless it causes physical harm of course.

Learn about autistic people, direct from us.  Fabulous people, usually kind, creative, focused and wonderful.
Thank you for listening.