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Top 10 Autism Myths Debunked By Movies And Tv Shows

Since quarantines and self-isolation are now the order of the day, there is plenty of time to watch TV series and films – and of course to analyze them. Although some series and movies are for entertainment only, others try to educate the viewer as the episodes go by.

On this list are 10 myths about people on the autism spectrum that are constantly being debunked through portrayals of television and movie characters. You can find some of these characters in Rain man, Atypical, and The good doctor.

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10 Autistic people don’t want friends

Right off the bat, this is not true. Most people simply assume that people with autism do not want friends or close ties because they cannot express themselves as freely as those who are not autistic. It also takes longer for autistic people to develop the social skills necessary to interact with other people.

Therefore, early social engagement is very important. As with anyone who has close friendships, those on the autism spectrum benefit from bonding together, especially if they are bullied at school or at work.[1]

In the series AtypicalThe character of 18 year old Sam Gardner suffers from an autism spectrum disorder. Zahid, another teenager who works with Sam in Techtropolis, sees his curiosities behind him and the two become best friends.

They talk about girls, buy clothes to attract girls, and talk to each other about their individual relationships with girls they like. Though it may sound flat because of the constant girls’ conversation, the two boys have a strong bond. Everyone accepts the other for who he is.

9 They lack empathy

Fans of The big Bang Theory I have a long-standing theory that Sheldon Cooper is autistic because of his lack of empathy with other people. In real life, too, many people assume that autistic people have no empathy. Some even call autism the “empathy disorder”.[2]

However, as Sheldon often exclaims on the show, it’s just harder for him to pick up on social cues and act accordingly. This doesn’t necessarily mean that he lacks empathy.

in the The good doctorAt Dr. Shaun Murphy was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Savant Syndrome. While he may have trouble expressing his feelings, it is clear that he feels empathy for his patients when he goes the extra mile to care for them and diagnose their ailments.

A quote from author Kerry Magro, who studies autism, sums up the message the show seeks to convey: “Shaun and I are not defined by our diagnosis.”

8th You don’t feel any emotions

Diagnosing a person with or on the autism spectrum does not render a person unable to sense or recognize emotions. Autistic people simply react differently to the emotions of others and also express their own emotions differently.[3]

in the Rain manDustin Hoffman portrayed an “autistic scholar” with so much heart that the film is still considered Hollywood’s shining star in depictions of autism more than 30 years later. Hoffman plays Raymond, who has excellent math and memory skills. But he lacks the ability to pick up social cues and has difficulty with sensory processing.

Hoffman prepared for the role by reading academic articles on autism and watching hours of footage on savants and the autism spectrum. He also consulted psychiatrists for their personal opinions.

The result was a character who showed a lot of emotion, albeit differently than other people usually do. For example, when Raymond is in need, he reacts like a child because he understands the subject very little, although he has an excellent memory. But the emotion is there, as strong as any other.

7th You cannot learn

Persistent misunderstandings have led to the myth that people on the autism spectrum cannot learn. However, ongoing studies have consistently shown that there is no difference between the learning abilities of people with and without autism. Individuals in the spectrum simply have a different way of learning.[4]

in the AtypicalSam Gardner learns to deal with the real world differently than other children, but he learns anyway. In the episode “Sam is Going for a Walk,” Sam’s mother recalls a board game she invented for the family so they can help Sam learn about dealing with the real world. This included common situations like what to do when a dog barks at you or how to get on a bus.

6th They are all mentally retarded

Although not all people may be on the autism spectrum Rain man and have incredible memories and math skills, it’s just not true that they are all mentally retarded. About half of those on the spectrum have some form of intellectual disability, but many are characterized by music or other activities and have high IQs.[5]

Dr. Shaun Murphy is portrayed as highly skilled and capable, despite his social awkwardness and the “perceived lack of empathy” we discussed earlier. This is also an indication of real life.

Hans Christian Andersen was on the autism spectrum and is still one of the most popular fairy tale writers in history. Susan Boyle is autistic but made history during her audition Britain’s Got Talent. She blew the judges with her portrayal of “I had a dream”. Tim Burton is also a great success as a film director. But he’s also on the autism spectrum.

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5 They are all savants

This is the opposite of the previous myth, but also untrue. As mentioned above, many on the autism spectrum are highly intelligent. Yet few are true scholars like Raymond in Rain man.[6]

in the AtypicalSam Gardner is highly intelligent, but not a scholar. This is true of most intelligent autistic people. They become doctors, lawyers, directors, actors, and more, but they never develop clever qualities. Once again, not all autistic people are created equal. Your skills vary.

4th You cannot be employed

This shouldn’t even be a myth because it shouldn’t take a TV show to expose something like this. As mentioned above, both Sam off Atypical and Shaun out The good doctor are busy.[7]

What makes employment difficult for people with autism is the fact that they often have to go through more tests and assessments than the average worker. The employment agencies are still learning how to find suitable employment opportunities for their autistic clients and prepare them for success.

Steve Jobs was autistic, yet one of the most successful people on the planet. Autism should never be used as a reason for rejecting an applicant by employers if the job specifications fall within that person’s talents and abilities.

3 Autism is caused by vaccinations

Another terrible misconception that just won’t go away is that vaccines cause autism. To date, the cause of autism is unknown, but researchers believe that genetics, toxic substances, and differences in brain anatomy could all help diagnose the disease in children.[8]

The rumor that vaccines could play a role in children with autism largely stems from a 1998 study that found the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine or measles virus itself could be to blame. Although it was soon discovered that the research used in the study was fake – and the doctor who conducted the study lost his medical license – the rumor just won’t die.

The medical journal that published the study withdrew the paper, but even that did nothing. Despite continued assurances that vaccines remain safe and that vaccinations are unrelated to autism, some parents blatantly oppose vaccinating their children.

Rain man, Atypical, and The good doctor do not contain in any way, form, or form the idea that their autistic characters had vaccinations that went wrong.

2 Bad parenting causes autism

If ever a character could single-handedly destroy such a myth, Elsa would be out Atypical. Elsa is Sam Gardner’s mother and she couldn’t be a better parent if she tried.

She is closer to her son than her husband Doug. When Doug and Sam get along, Elsa has an extramarital affair. But it doesn’t affect the bond with her son and the love she has for him.[9]

After being thrown out of the house by her husband, she tosses and turns while she spends her first night away from Sam since he was born. Among other things, Elsa attends a weekly autism support group and accepts and understands her son’s diagnosis better than anyone.

While some children and adolescents on the autism spectrum may have bad parents, it is not the bad parents who caused the diagnosis.

1 Autism is rare

Some people refer to autism as eccentric and rare, as if it was something to be careful about. However, it is estimated that 1 in 54 eight-year-old children is on the autism spectrum. Some children lose their diagnosis and no longer show symptoms as they age. Basically, they grow out of the state.[10]

Shows like Atypical and The good doctor Educate the public on all aspects of autism, including the fact that it is nowhere near as rare as some believe. People with autism don’t deserve to be stigmatized, and children don’t deserve to be bullied for it.

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