Randolph, Mass. — Public awareness and understanding of autism spectrum disorder have increased dramatically in the 30 years since the film “Rain Man.” Today, most people know or will meet someone on the spectrum: one in every 59 children is diagnosed with autism. In 2000, it was one in 150.
“There is less stigma and greater understanding about autism,” says Cynthia Anderson, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Director of May Institute’s National Autism Center. “Even so, and despite these advancements, common misperceptions persist.”
To reduce confusion, top clinical experts at May Institute offered key takeaways from the latest research and clinical findings:
1. Children and adults with autism are as varied, unique, and diverse as people without autism. If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism!
2. Autism is NOT caused by vaccines. Autism is believed to have a genetic basis, although no specific gene has been directly linked to the disorder.
3. Autism is not caused by bad parenting. With early diagnosis and appropriate supports, individuals can be social and independent, interact with others, and contribute to communities and the workforce.
4. Effective treatment needs to be tailored to the individual, addressing the deficits and excesses which most limit a person’s ability to get along in the world. These could include difficulties communicating or interacting with others, the presence of challenging behavior or repetitive behaviors, and a restricted range of interests.
5. While no cure exists, autism can be diagnosed and treated. Individuals with autism can lead meaningful, happy, and enriched lives, just like everyone else.
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