An Educationist View on The Reality of Autism

A mother recounted how she was discouraged by her relatives when she wanted to investigate if something was wrong with her son. Her mother instincts had given her cause for worry as she noticed come developmental delays. Her relatives and even her husband were not willing to consider the possibility something was wrong. This was probably as a combination of fear and denial. She persisted and was able to get her child diagnosed; now she is thankful for the early intervention because she sees the improvement in her son.

There are so many myths about autism so we decided to talk to an educationist, Mrs Adewole the director of TLPCentre, Lekki, Lagos. The TLPCentre is a day school for children with autism and other related developmental disorders.TLP Centre

As there are so many myths about autism, before internalizing them as true, it is important to consider the way your belief will affect the feelings of a person living with Autism.Do not let your perception of autism be clouded by unconfirmed facts.

She shares with us ten of such myths below and the realities of Autism

1. Bad Parenting Causes Autism: The theory of “Refrigerator Mum” propagated by Leo Kanner in Time Magazine in 1948, suggested that parents triggered autism in their children due to bad parenting. This is not the case.

2. MMR Vaccines Cause Autism: Andrew Wakefield in 1998 alleged, that there is a link between MMR vaccine and a hypothetical bowel disorder dubbed autistic enterocolitis. However, there is no evidence to support this and he has since been disowned by his co-authors and retracted by the Lancet for making such allegation.

3. Autism is a relatively new and trendy disorder; it is now an epidemic: There is no evidence to confirm that autism is a newly discovered disorder. There is evidence of people with autism as far back as the 1800s. The advent of more awareness, information, and technology makes identification and detection of autism better.

4. People with autism lack empathy: The assertion that autism is a plague of those unable to feel is false. The truth is that they struggle to make sense of social signals like facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. This makes them express their feelings differently from the normal regular feelings of typical persons. They are not emotionless, cruel or heartless.

5. People with autism have the same traits: Autism Spectrum Disorders exist within a wide spectrum. Persons with autism may display similar traits but do not have the same exact traits. The fact is if you have seen one person with autism, you have only seen one person with autism.  However, it is a faceless disorder; and you will have to study and observe each individual in order to determine his behavior traits.

6. Most parents of children with autism end up divorced or separated: It actually brings more closeness between spouses in some cases. Sharing a common cause means desiring a common goal. Autism does not always cause the divorce, something else does.

7. Every parent of a person with autism understands the disorder and is an authority on it: This is not the case. Except parents open themselves up to learning about, and understanding autism, they are no authority on autism. They are just as good as the weakest link.

8. All persons living with autism are savants and highly gifted. Research shows that the estimated prevalence of savant abilities is 10% in persons with autism. The prevalence in non-autistic population, including those with mental retardation is less than 1%. Savant skills are based on individual case reports, not on overall autism population.

Is there a Cure?

9. There is a cure for autism: There is no known cure for autism, however, there are various interventions and treatments that help lead to recovery. The truth is that recovery is not the same a cure.

10. Every person with autism will benefit from the gluten, wheat, casein free diet: It is not a one size fits all diet. So every individual’s diet should be taken on a case by case basis. Gluten and casein are actually good for some persons on the autism spectrum whilst it is bad for others.


Compiled by Bolanle Adewole, director of TLPCentre, Lekki, Lagos, a day school for children with autism and other related developmental disorders.

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