People on the autism spectrum do not have emotions or feelings.
Among the characteristics of the autism spectrum are an impaired ability to see things from the perspective of another person or to “read” facial expressions, body language, or other social cues, and the tendency to express themselves using inappropriate remarks or unconventional facial expressions and body gestures. In particular, people on the spectrum often do not respond to a situation, incident, or story in the same manner or to the same degree that a typical person would. This can make such an individual appear unempathetic or unfeeling. In fact, most people on the autism spectrum experience the same range of emotions as anybody else. Furthermore, in spite of not reacting with as much emotion to some situations as would be expected, they can sometimes react with much more emotion to other situations than most people would. In particular, because of the many difficulties that they often have with things that come “naturally” to most people, those on the autism spectrum are likely to experience feelings of anger, frustration, and depression more strongly than a typical person. This myth can exacerbate these emotions even further, when an individual on the spectrum realizes that his feelings are completely disregarded by people who do not believe that he has any.
People on the autism spectrum have no interest in social interaction.
It is definitely true that most people on the autism spectrum have a need to “keep to themselves” for at least part of the time and that they can become absorbed in their often unusual areas of interest, sometimes to the exclusion of everything else. Although some more severely autistic individuals may have an aversion to all social interactions, this in no way implies that the vast majority of people on the spectrum have any less need for human companionship than anybody else. It is generally true, however, that being on the autism spectrum generally implies a significant deficit in social skills, and that many individuals have difficulty with, and often an aversion to, much of what constitutes popular conversation or “small talk”. The sad outcome of this situation, for such an individual, is frequently one of isolation in spite of having a very strong craving for the “normal” social life that others appear to have. The prevalence of this myth aggravates the situation even further, since it causes people to disregard the social needs of these individuals.
People on the autism spectrum do not have a sense of humor.
This is one of the least harmful but most ridiculous myths about the autism spectrum. It is probably due to the fact that people on the spectrum often are unable to “get” many conventional jokes, or simply do not find them funny. This is then interpreted as a lack of a sense of humor. In reality, many people on the autism spectrum develop a strong interest in humor, especially after enough jokes are explained to them and / or they develop the ability to understand them independently. The result can range from a downright hilarious individual, who happens to be on the autism spectrum, to someone with an unconventional and perhaps highly original style of humor.
People on the autism spectrum are not interested in sex.
This is one of the most erroneous, as well as most tragic, myths about the autism spectrum. It is perpetuated by the same “solitary” stereotypes of individuals with autism responsible for the myth of their having no interest in social interactions. Sadly, this myth can become a “self-fulfilling prophecy” as a result of the deficits in interpersonal skills, awareness of social subtlety and cues, and ability to perceive things from the perspective of another person that are characteristic of AS and autism. These abilities, which are instinctive for most people, are essential for any form of social success, particularly the pursuit of a sexual relationship. In fact, people with autism are every bit as interested in sex as anybody, if not even more so as a result of the abysmal reality that their social lives often are. The situation can be even further aggravated by the images of human sexuality that are delivered by the mass media as well as the constant references to sexual success that are so common in many conversations.
People on the autism spectrum do not speak.
It is sadly true that some people with more severe forms of autism may never speak, and that many children on the autism spectrum are delayed in their early speech, sometimes severely. In fact, however, the vast majority of people on the spectrum are not only quite capable of speech, but are generally quite articulate and often even talkative. Furthermore, the definition of AS specifically includes “no significant delay in language development” as one of the diagnostic criteria. The fact that some individuals on the spectrum tend to “keep to themselves” and avoid social conversation (especially “small-talk”) also helps to contribute to the myth. A major consequence of this misconception is that a significant portion of this population, namely those capable of any form of speech, is not recognized as having any form of autism, and thus considered ineligible for the accommodations and services that they in fact need.
People on the autism spectrum are mentally retarded.
Although a large percentage of individuals with the more severe forms of autism are considered retarded according to conventional criteria for measuring intelligence, this is certainly not true of the entire autistic population. Even without considering the many historical figures that are, controversially, believed to have been on the autism spectrum, there are numerous diagnosed autistic individuals with college and even post-graduate education, up to the Ph.D., as well a significant number of professionals in various fields. Once again, the definition of AS includes “no significant delay in cognitive development” as one of the diagnostic criteria; in other words, individuals with AS are at least of “average” or “normal” intelligence, and many are in the above-average and even superior ranges. What is true about the autism spectrum is that many individuals, regardless of their cognitive intelligence, have difficulties with things that are relatively easy, if not instinctive, for the majority of people; this includes academic subjects as well as “real-world” skills. A common result of this is that bright individuals are considered much less intelligent than they actually are, thereby limiting opportunities to achieve their potentials as well as perpetuating the myth. Another unfortunate consequence of this myth is that special educational accommodations and services, particularly in the areas of social skills and daily-living skills, are not offered to many of the brighter children on the autism spectrum, who are considered “too smart” to need them.
People with AS Are More Likely to Commit Crimes and Get Into Trouble With the Police.
We are actually more law-abiding than most, and we have an overdeveloped moral sense. While it is certainly true that there are well-publicized cases of criminals with AS, this is exceptional, and usually involves people who have severe psychological problems in addition to AS.