13 Autism Myths Everyone Needs to Stop Believing
Myth: Individuals on the spectrum are all gifted
The movie Rain Man may be largely responsible for this myth. That’s not to say there isn’t any truth behind Dustin Hoffman’s character, Raymond, a savant in math and memory skills. For those with high-functioning autism, this is sometimes, but not always, the case.
The movie is still possibly the most famous portrayal of an individual with autism, but it’s unfortunately led to an unrealistic idea of the disorder for the majority of those with it. In fact, about 10 percent of those on the spectrum are considered to have savant abilities, compared to 1 percent of those not on the spectrum. Although it’s not yet known why savant abilities are more common in individuals with autism, it’s thought that abnormal brain development plays a role, as the right hemisphere attempts to compensate for underdevelopment, or damage to, the left hemisphere.
It’s also important to remember that what someone can’t do has no effect on the amazing things they can do. According to Dr. Hagerty, “recent discoveries in cognitive science and neuroscience suggest that various human faculties (often called “intelligences”) are essentially independent. In other words, somebody gifted, say, in mathematics, may or may not possess an impaired ability to access, understand, and act on one’s own feelings and emotions and those of other people.”