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Autism: More Myths

Category: Blogger's Corner, Autism, WORKPLACE, minorities, myths

autism myths

In a previous post I discussed and dispelled common myths associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder, such as the assumptions that autistic people are only good at one thing or lack empathy. Sadly, there are many more myths out there – and here are just a few:

  1. Everyone with Asperger’s Syndrome is a geniusem

It’s a common assumption that ‘Aspies’ are all super-smart (and savants) and possess intelligence that most can only dream of. But this is true only for a small minority. The myth exists because a common Asperger’s trait is ‘average or above average intelligence’[1], with ‘intelligence’ usually associated with IQ[2]. Most people focus on ‘above average’ here, fuelling the myth – but just like in the wider population, these people are a minority. The vast majority of ‘Aspies’ have average level IQ[3]. (And let’s not forget, too, that IQ’s not the only measure of intelligence!)[4] And while most people with autism working in competitive industries will have above average intelligence, that doesn’t mean we’ll be geniuses.

  1. Autistic people don’t require help in the workplace

Due to the benevolent myth that autistic people are mostly geniuses, there’s a common belief that we’ll find it easy to find and maintain employment, and shouldn’t request adjustments. But when only 15% of autistic people are in full-time employment[5], in comparison to 31% of people with disabilities as a whole, this clearly isn’t the case. In my experience, younger people tend to believe this most – perhaps because they’re also most likely to believe academic qualifications are all you need for a job, and overlook interpersonal ‘people skills’ which autistic people struggle with[6], yet are ‘vital in the workplace[7][8].

  1. Autistic people are all introverted

In common parlance, autism often conjures an image of a person obsessed with facts who dislikes people, happy to live in solitude. But the majority of us want to make friends[1] – often, we just don’t know how. There’s even a specific criteria for those who are ‘Active but odd’[2], who are very socially engaged but come across, for lack of a better term, as strange. There’s also a ‘passive’ type of autistic person, who’ll happily engage socially as long as somebody else starts the conversation. It’s too simplistic to assume no autistic extroverts exist.

Autism is a common and complex condition - it’s not nearly as simple as is commonly thought. And there are many, many more myths which need dispelling – watch this space for more!

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email info@vercida.com for more information.

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