13 Autism Myths Everyone Needs to Stop Believing
Myth: They are prone to violence
Not all people with autism are aggressive, violent, self-injurious, or even bullies to their peers, as many are led to believe. We picture these individuals, caught in their own world, ready to snap at any moment. The truth is that while aggression and self-injurious behaviors can be characteristic of individuals with autism, they are not violent beings by nature.
A French studyof the relationship between autism and aggression monitored both typically developing children and adolescents and same-aged peers with autism. The study watched both groups in three different environments: with parents, with caregivers, and in a doctor’s office where they had to get blood drawn. Researchers found that the more anxiety-provoking the situation, the higher the chance of a self-injurious behavior in the individuals with autism. Parents saw the least; caregivers saw a little more; and medical professionals drawing blood saw the highest number of these behaviors.
Typically developing children and adolescents have the coping skills to manage their anxieties in these situations. Individuals with autism have impaired coping strategies, symbolization techniques, and communication skills that would otherwise help them manage anxiety without inflicting harm to themselves. Contrary to popular belief, though, individuals with autism tend to perform self-injurious behaviors, like picking their skin or head-banging, more often than inflicting harm on others. There’s a big difference between a child with autism and a child who is a bully.