Generalizations about autism can make it difficult for some children to get a diagnosis.
Myth 1: Your child is not ready for speech therapy
There are no prerequisite skills for speech therapy, including being able to speak. For non-verbal children, therapy can be very play-based. Finding a speech pathologist from a registry like Hanen or PROMPT can help ensure evidence-based practices are being used for your child’s therapy.
Myth 2: All children with ASD have poor eye contact
Some children with autism have appropriate eye contact or even too much eye contact! Speech therapy targets pragmatics, or social skills, if this is an area of concern.
Myth 3: All children with ASD have poor play skills
Although many children on the spectrum prefer to play alone or play with toys in non-typical ways, some children with autism love playing with peers!
Myth 4: Autism can’t be diagnosed until age 4
Autism can be diagnosed at 18 months or earlier! Signs of autism can be present as early as six months.
Myth 5: Stop self-stimming behavior
If a child is engaging in self-stimulation behaviors or “stimming”, like spinning or hand-flapping, they are trying to regulate their sensory system. Trying to extinguish one behavior may result in a less-favorable or self-harming stim behavior. Talk to an occupational therapist who specializes in sensory processing. The child may benefit from a “fidget” toy, special seat, etc.
Myth 6: Autism is caused by vaccines
The idea that autism is caused by vaccines came from a now discredited research study from 1998. The researcher lost his medical license and numerous studies published since have proven that autism is not caused by vaccines and that autism develops in utero, well before children are vaccinated.