Polly's pages (aka 'Donna Williams')

Ever the arty Autie

Autism myth busting. War on myths and stereotypes


As an autism consultant since 1996, I thought I’d do some Autism myth busting. I asked the 5000 people on my FB page to suggest a stereotype, assumption or belief about autism and lets do some myth busting. Here’s how it went:

Abbie Rich
that’s easy…everyone with Aspergers is like “Rainman”

Donna Williams
OK Abbie, as we know, only 1% of those on the spectrum are ‘savants’. We also know many with AS are gifted and that gifted is not the same as being a ‘savant’. We know Daniel Tammet had a brain injury and also has AS and that he is a sava…nt. We know savant skills also occur in some people with brain injury and that there are savants with sensory impairments. We also know people glorify savants, that its a means of marketing abilities of those with autism and so there’s high competition to be known as a savant. We also know that IQ is nothing to do with being a savant. And we know that many people with AS are no more particularly gifted than would occur in the general population – a myth busted!

Christianne Palmer
People with autism don’t have a sense of humour. Tell that to my 11 year old non-verbal son. Nothing he loves more than a good joke (usually pretending he’s going to do something naughty).

Donna Williams
Hey Christianne, as we know there are teens and adults diagnosed with autism who have become comedians. We also know children with autism have all different temperaments and personality traits – including those predisposed to humor and surrealism – and many also characterize cartoon and other TV characters and their slapstick antics. We also know that humor, silliness and surrealism can be used by some to divert from pain, fear, anxiety so in those with that predisposition, comedic skills could become more highly developed than for a child not facing the same issues day to day.

Abbie Rich
That ‘You made your kid that way’.

Donna Williams
Children with autism often have no significant brain injury and are usually not born into neglect or abuse or to mentally ill or substance abusing carers. Others, however, will be.

No degree of bad diet or abuse or neglect AFTER the age of 3 can make a non-autistic kid autistic. It could make a child APPEAR autistic but once the diet is healthy, or the child removed from abuse or neglect and in a healthy environment, the child would begin to recover.

HOWEVER, if a child was born into severe neglect and abuse, so that it was chronic before the age of 2-3, it would be a cert that the child would have developmental delay – ie PDD, that it would have attachment disorders like RAD, that it would have impaired neurological integration, sensory processing problems, delayed communication development etc…

In other words severe abuse and neglect from birth and for the first 2-3 years can probably amount to the same degree of impairment as any brain injury associated with oxygen deprivation at birth, infant stroke, brain injury from infection in infancy, fetal alcohol effect, head injury… all of which I’ve seen as a consultant associated with cases of autism and PDD Nos and PDD.

It is also possible that a child with a family history of autism will be born to a substance abusing parent, born into neglect and abuse and be more developmentally, neurologically, immunologically impaired than they would otherwise have been born into other circumstances.

Abbie Rich
That autism doesnt exist

Donna Williams
As for whether autism exists… something that presents as autism definitely exists… but…. if you distinguish speech aphasia, visual/verbal/body agnosias, verbal/oral/motor dyspraxia, delayed sensory and neurological integration, gut/immune/metabolic disorders, epilepsy, selective mutism, separation anxiety disorder, dissociation, derealisation, Exposure Anxiety, Social Phobia, GAD, OCD, tourette’s, DPD, OCPD, AvPD, NPD… etc… there’s basically nothing left in the fruit salad that is SPECIFICALLY ‘the autism’.

Diana Paige Sheeks
That Autism is caused by bad parenting.

Donna Williams
Hi Dianne, re parenting… if a child is meaning deaf/meaning blind and the parent uses long strings of blah with no gestural signing, representational objects, no hand over hand learning… then this is not bad parenting… but it is parenting that doesn’t help the person with the issues. Similar if a child is face blind or has social emotional agnosia and the parents keep changing their hair, clothes, never aiding the person to formally notice or interpret the things they’d never naturally even know held meaning. Similar if the child had extreme Exposure Anxiety and the parent was always in their face, pursuing, gushy, constantly increasing the sens of audience to every move they made. Or if the child had DPD and the parent pandered to it to avoid the child tantruming or doing emotional blackmail/self injury then the parent would actually make the DPD worse… so whilst ‘bad parenting’ in mainstream terms doesn’t cause autism, caring which is uninformed about the nature of their OWN CHILD’S particular fruit salad and what’s required to appear comprehensible, respectful, even sensorily cohesive, certainly helps!

Maxime Cossette
MYTH: People with autism don’t understand/perceive body language. They just don’t understand/perceive it WHILE THEY’RE TALKING OR WHILE YOU’RE TALKING TO THEM !!! little, but so important difference ( it may be not true of all, but of many of the verbal ones, especially Aspergers )

Donna Williams
Maxime, good point… not ALL people with autism have Social Emotional Agnosia! Many DONT Many DO. Those who don’t may be highly sensing… especially if they can’t see the whole… they learn to tune into tone, movement, very subtle shifts… and that can be utterly different to the Aspie with Social Emotional Agnosia yet cause its own set of problems! And its also true that someone MONO can’t easily SHOW you what they understand whilst tuned into to ALL OTHER because they cut off from SELF at the time. Doesn’t mean they don’t perceive the other stuff… and sometimes its simply there in delayed processing. But the psychologists are SO behind on this stuff… aiaiaiai

Nikhaylah L Peacock
I mentioned to another mother at pre-school that my son has autism, her response was that he couldn’t because he isn’t always flapping his hands and screaming!

Donna Williams
Hi Nikhayla, re flapping and screaming… there are kids with autism AND DPD or NPD who will tantrum because of personality disorder stuff, others simply because of information overload, others because they’ve learned it works to control the parent (and yes, they STILL have autism AND they can work that out), others with gut pain/ear infections/migraine who will scream because they have pain, others just plain frustrated as hell with their sensory perceptual confusion of sensory hypersensitivities or communication disorders or the entrapment of Exposure Anxiety and its involuntary avoidance, diversion, retaliation responses, or with severe chronic tics… and there’s those who just DISSOCIATE and IMPLODE who don’t scream, they disappear or become a TV character or a cat or….. As for flapping, babies flap until they can mirror facial expression/body language so its common in children with social emotional agnosia… there’s nothing particularly ‘autistic’ about it, unless you think Social Emotional Agnosia IS autism (as opposed to part of some people’s autism. Others will flap for the visuals, especially if they have visual/verbal agnosias and the movement makes them buzz. When they flap beside or in front of their eyes it can help them switch on the visual processing, be used to process info, or used to tune out visual flooding… but of course not all kids with autism will flap or scream… so personally I don’t like the presumption that ‘we all flap’ or that its ‘part of autistic culture’. That’s a BOLLOCKS!

Lisa Marie Beddell
I know they say we can’t love and will never find a partner also they say we can’t empathise

Donna Williams
ah, that we can’t love, empathise or find a partner… well, those with autism and NPD or psychopathy can’t love or empathise, but they may find a partner, and use and abuse them. Those with autism with Schizoid or Avoidant personality disorders may never meet a partner! Those who are Schizoid may struggle to show love, empathy and be easily left by a partner. Those with Dependent Personality Disorder may infuriate a partner who finds they have a big baby on their hands who married for a a mother replacement. Those with Social Emotional Agnosia may fail to get the messages to reciprocate expressions of love and may not see the signs that would lead them to empathise but once they know what’s hurting someone they can be as empathic as any human being. Those who can’t process simultaneous sense of self and other may keep disappearing when processing one or the other so may struggle to easily express love or empathy directly. Those with Exposure Anxiety may deeply love and empathise but continually avoid, divert, retaliate against the direct expression of it.

Sarah Hitchings O’Connor
autistic people can’t lie. Beth lies all the time!

Donna Williams

Hi Sarah, ah, lies. Again that comes down to personality. The Adventurous personality trait fears boredom, lives for excitement and they can be exceptional liars! Why? Because the extreme is Antisocial Personality Disorder – sociopaths! Can someone on the spectrum have the adventurous personality trait? OF COURSE!!! But there’s many personality traits which find it simply unnatural to lie, they can’t see the point, have no natural motivation to do so. And those diagnosed with autism tend rarely to be those with a strong adventurous trait… why? because they then dx THOSE ones with ADHD!!! how convenient! You see the idiocy, of course.

Maxime Cossette
Myth: Some people become autistic. You’re born like that, its genetic, you are or not, you cannot become autistic.

Donna Williams
Hi Maxime, re autistic people are born with autism… There are definitely those that ARE and there are those who show NO sign of autism until around 18-24 mths.

I believe in the future we’ll see those in the 2nd group fit things like Disintegrative Disorder (a toddler onset of dementia), have gut/immune/metabolic disorders which don’t trigger until going onto varied diet/vax regimes/catching full blown bugs they can’t rid from their system (ie viral load). And remember, if a baby is breastfed it will have its mother’s immunity until 6mths old.

Primary Immune deficiencies have a high association with developmental disability, including a percentage who will be diagnosed autistic. So those with IgA deficiency (the most common primary immune deficiency and effects 10-20% of those with autism) this won’t show the impact of primary immune deficiency until after it accumulates a viral load etc by around 12-18mths. This same group usually can’t digest cow’s milk or gluten or detox properly from salicylate intake so you wouldn’t see that impact until these things entered the diet for a while. If the child is breastfed then that’s at around 12-24 months of age. If the child is straight onto cow’s milk at birth, or soy (which reduces gut IgA) and is intolerant or allergic to either, then the associated neurological impairment might appear to be ‘from birth’ or ‘born that way’. Even if ‘autism’ ran in the family, if its not differentiated from gut/immune/metabolic disorders, you can’t be sure WHAT it is you’re saying is genetic.

So it may be that ALL people with autism are born with it, as that there are a percentage who are born predisposed to neurological/immunological/metabolic/gut disorders which MANIFEST as development disorders and RESULT in autistic withdrawal and behaviours.

I have also known children who were not autistic until the mother sunk into post natal depression and the child went into depression with her, possibly not because they were predisposed to autism, but because they were predisposed to DEPRESSION. Then the mother recovered but the child stayed dissociated, in their own world, developed things like DPD (Dependant Personality Disorder), it got called ‘the autism’, the parent unknowingly pandered to DPD/entrenched it. Voila, one case of autism.

So I think there are those born autistic and others who become autistic in the first 24 mths. I also know there are some older children and adults who had brain injury who if you met them, you’d be certain they were autistic as they have all the same processing issues and emotional responses to their disabilities as the child with autism. And there are those with chronic seizures in infancy who BECOME autistic but weren’t before the damage of the seizures causing progressive brain injury. And I worked with a man who became autistic at age 7. He was indistinguishable from any autistic child in his school. But he had speech until age 7, just anxiety disorder consumed him until his stutter became overwhelming and he became progressively more Selectively Mute and ultimately regressed etc.

Anita Ghazarian
That their ‘episodic memeory’ is poor. My son can remember events, ppl and places from the time he was less than 3 years old. Furthermore he can recall the context; for example he started recalling a therapy place we used to take him to when he was a toddler. He remembers, the place, the shops around that place, what therpaist he had and the other therpists and one on ones he had at home and school at the time: a complete slice of history.

Donna Williams
Hi Anita, yes some people with autism have REMARKABLE ‘serial memory’. This may also be a feature of those predisposed to PTSD and dissociative disorders. Some people with autism have the inability to forget. Hence why some can characterise and repeat entire TV shows.

Maria ‘Ria’ Strong
Far from “can’t make eye contact”, some of us told off for staring. Including me. Yes, tend not to make eye contact when I’m listening/talking to people, much more likely to look at their mouths. That’s a speech/language processing issue tho, not about eye contact as such!

Donna Williams
Yes, Maria, the problems with eye contact include – when people can’t see a face as a whole (the movement of a perceptually fragmented can make people feel ill/overwhelmed and peripheral vision restores cohesion),… people with AvPD may naturally avoid eye contact as do shy people,… people with Schizoid Personality Disorder or Exposure Anxiety may avoid it when initiated by others but stare if initiated by them, … people who are faceblind may be intimidated by expectations to recognise and respond as familiar… people with Social Emotional Agnosia may not get the messages people feel facial expression and eye contact give so may avoid or stare… people with NPD may be so not into anything that is not entirely to their own benefit they find no point in eye contact or the empathy others think they may get from it, … some people have become traumatised by the eye contact thing through the pathological fixation/pursuit/control of therapists forcing it!

Stacey Poppel Groder
Children with autism don’t care what others think. Conversation on the way home from school today: “my friend is going to hate me….” (because I told friend’s mom they had a test)

Donna Williams
Hi Stacey, yes, there are those with autism and AvPD or GAD who will FIXATE on what others think of them!

Marsha Dolan
That those with autism have no imagination…..pah!

Donna Williams
Hi Marsha, there’s be those with such severe visual perceptual disorders, such an inability to process simultaneous sense of self and other, such high Exposure Anxiety or Schizoid Personality Disorder they can’t dare to show themselves or others what they think, feel, imagine, those so overtaken by OCD or tics they have little space for volitional action/expression and any of these folks may have significant difficulty indulging in imagination. There are also those without these things who will simply not be naturally imaginative personalities and others who will be marvelously so, even take refuge in imagination or at least creativity.

Diana Paige Sheeks
MYTH: They should be institutionalized…or worse…sterilized! I’ve had that one posed to me a few times.

Donna Williams
Oh Diana, that’s such a painful one… sadistic, narcissistic, psychopaths should be sterilised. We don’t need any Myra Hindleys in this world. Those with autism with the intellectual or emotional capacity to adequately care for a child would need significant social supports to bring one up and if the child is born with similar issues, the parent may have too many of their own special needs to adequately help a child who has similar. Others with autism have made wonderful and capable parents. As for institutionalized, people are actually saying ‘rubbish bin’, they are saying they feel society shouldn’t see or know of or have autistic people… they are suggesting something akin to the ghettos of Nazi Germany, the next step of which was extermination. In other words anyone making such a statement is a bigot or worse and is demonstrating the lack of empathy I’d expect from a psychopath.

Kathy Williamson
The only people who have autism are children.

Donna Williams
Hi Kathy, of course autistic children grow up. Some DO outgrow their autism by age 5. I have seen it. Nobody knows which ones or why, and its not always due to diet, interventions, etc… sometimes its kids who had immature immune systems and recovered naturally as these matured…. sometimes its because the child was in their own world, dissociated and made a friend… seriously… we should do this as a topic… the things I’ve encountered as a consultant since 1996… but of course MOST do not outgrow their autism at all… some do outgrow parts of it, or adapt enough to get many more functions than they had, some even move from appearing autistic to appearing to merely have info processing issues but without behaving particularly ‘autistically’. Other children grow up to be as autistic but in an adult’s body. When I meet these ones often there is a whole fruit salad of issues that haven’t been understood or addressed and the person has then built their identity around all of that… they have BECOME their autism. Others will type about being entrapped by ‘their autism’ and in discussion with them it will become clear they are talking about a range of disabilities, not one thing… some addressable… many adaptable… some not.

Maria ‘Ria’ Strong
You can’t be autistic because you’re not like my child. You can’t be autistic because you can [whatever]. Because you can do [whatever], you must not need support in any part of your life.

Donna Williams
Hi Maria, oh the one size fits all myth… this is the one of people who can’t grasp autism as a fruit salad and its many combos.. the purists… the flag wavers who post their child on You Tube as THE face of autism… and if you try and help them grasp their kid’s fruit salad they FREAK OUT… because they are INVESTED in it being ONE THING… its become THEIR badge of honor, their EVIDENCE that as an undx’d Aspie they can prove their autism by proxy – boring!!!! Equally boring is the assumption of high/low functioning and that those who can put their all into getting through the day then collapse or regress are somehow indulgent and don’t require support. aiaiaia. Equally the opposite, that those who don’t automatically pursue skills must be incapable of discovering they could have any.

Carla Campbell Hay
I get fed up when people keep asking me , what is his talent or is he a good singer!!! I feel like screaming at some ignorant people!!

Donna Williams
Hi Carla, yes, some people with autism do compensate by overdeveloping a particular ABILITY but that certainly doesn’t mean all compensate that way… some will compensate by being silly/surreal all the time, by dissociating, by becoming a prompt dependent automaton, by sitting on the computer with computer addiction, by becoming a stim addict, by…. you get the picture. Yes, people are very ignorant. Best to maybe say, hmm, don’t know, why, what’s YOUR special skill?

Michele Nichols
does not like change….CRAP my son loves chaos and adventure…

Donna Williams
yep. those with autism and some personality disorders like the AvPD, live for routine, fear change, or those with Schizoid personality disorder will tend to stick to what’s logical/practical, and doesn’t give much away so they preserve their anonymity. Those with OCPD are so geared for control, achievement, perfection that novelty could counter those things so they tend to fixate on what they are already into and good at. Without the adventurous personality trait (or the Exuberant or Idiosyncratic traits), a person with autism may have little sense of adventure, need for novelty or excitement. In other words those who believe all people with autism don’t like change can’t distinguish things like AvPD or OCPD from ‘the autism’.

Susan Elizabeth Spann
That they cannot work or function in society.

Donna Williams
Hi Susan, there are non-verbal people who are authors and bloggers, two I know who are assistants in bookshops, some who are gardeners, several who are artists, some who want to be autism consultants. I know many people diagnosed on the spectrum who work in all types of jobs; social work, teaching, process workers, shelf stackers, waiters, cooks, delivery people, library assistants, dog walking, engineering, make up artists, IT, artists, writers, presenters etc…. and I know many who use OCPD or AvPD or NPD or DPD or just plain separatism or malingering as an excuse to cop out of the MOTIVATION, ENDURANCE and FOCUS it takes to even regularly check for jobs, put up an advert looking for any work, take or try work offered to them, or even show up regularly to something that isn’t 100% their ultimate interest.

Nadine Stavonina-de Montagnac
Ok, here’s one: I’ve never ‘suffered’ from my autism – but I suffered from a broken nose for looking ‘weird’ – the pain hurt like heck for days. I suffered from name calling – the pain hurt for years! And I’ve suffered from being rejected and avoided for being misunderstood – the pain hurt a life-time. Autism doesn’t make me stupid. If I was, how could I understand my ‘type’ and the ‘normal’ type and exist in two worlds?

Donna Williams
Hi Nadine, well, as we know people don’t suffer from neurological differences, they suffer from frustration, maltreatment, discrimination, exclusion, they also suffer from disorientation, derealisation, depersonalisation and any of these things can be due to disabilities associated with autism fruit salad. So we can say that people don’t necessarily suffer from autism, but they can suffer from the mental, emotional, social and communication impacts of disability. So if one’s autism does not amount to disability – and there’s those for whom it does not – then they are not suffering from their differences. If there are those whose autism does amount to an overwhelming level of disability or associated social disadvantage, then yes, they may well suffer in ASSOCIATION with their disability/ies.

Rachel Vivace
That we can’t smile, laugh, or feel emotions.

Nikhaylah L Peacock
don’t show affection

John Lang
Autistic people can’t contribute actively to society.

Tammy Simon
don’t want friends

Jessica Cotterell
can’t emphasize.

Robin V Schwoyer
can’t show empathy or affection

Marla Wise Miller
Have no imagination.

Shirley Buttram
I was asked by a doctor just yesterday and I quote “What are his limitations?” I promptly told him only God knows that. I don’t put limitations on him.

Marla Wise Miller
You go Shirley! To have a Dr. say that makes you wonder what kind of degree he has!

Grace Carbone Fava
I was told by a “professional/expert” Don’t you know your son wont amount to anything? pffft!

Dwight Gardam
Lack self-awareness

Courtenay Alexis Bell-Gimelli
Autistic people can’t be creative

Paula Jessop
A true quote from a general doctor “oh, I didn’t know adults could have aspergers”…

Janna Louise Hoskin Willard
‎”Autistic people don’t read fiction.”

Rebecca Briggs
‎”Autistic people can’t talk” I can talk so to some I must not be autistic. At least they aren’t like my kindergarten teacher who was convinced I was schizophrenic as a child.

Shirley Buttram
My son drives a car, and in July will receive an Associates Degree in Sacred Literature.

Courtenay Alexis Bell-Gimelli
Oh and a professor told me all females on the spectrum were”fat, ugly and tend to be unattractive in general.” She said this after I told her about my aspergers.

Leah Jane Grantham
‎”Autistic people can’t get married”

Leo Pelayo
Wow Courtenay your from my side of the playground…have aspergers too, so does my daughter and she is beautiful

Sam Hadley
a teacher once asked/said to me “ohhhh, so what is he obsessed with, trains, planes or space”???

John Lang
The best one of all… Martin Bryant’s mother on 60 minutes the other week… “My son’s Asperger’s Syndrome made him carry out the Port Arthur massacre.” How fucked in the head is that!!

Marie Davis
A psychologist once told me you can’t be aspergers if you make facial expressions

Nanne Binghi Barkdull
Because I was “too old”. lol

Brendan Maguire
Are not able to have relationships

Jess Coburn
‎”but your son doesnt cower at the lights…” wtf is that?!

Laura Lewis
When you tell someone your son is autistic and they say oh but he looks normal. that gets me so mad. he is normal. he is autistic like I am a Mother

Brigianna Spencer
Not sure if this quite fits, but… the government is making us autistic to make us easier to control.

Sarah Justice
he doesn’t look autistic. i get that one alot. I ask them what they think autism should look like?

Cat Taylor
‎”will never say mum or I love you”

Dwight Gardam
And I thought autism awareness was increasing, apparently not. If these comments are a reflection of how many ‘professionals’ view autism, then we have a long way to go 🙁

Nick Avery
Your son will never speak, never hug or kiss you, never say he loves you, never attend a normal school, and will be in an institution by the time he is six. Wrong on all counts, Doc!

Sara Sanders Gardner
I’ve heard: “should never have children” “don’t want friends” “can’t teach other autistic people how to do things”

Laura Lewis
when people stare because of Clay’s meltdowns I just stare right back and ask them would they stare if he was in a wheelchair

Donna Elks Pittman
We just got a shirt for our 10 year old son that reads “KEEP STARING… I MIGHT DO A TRICK!”

Nicole Turon-Diaz
When telling a 20 something about Joey Travolta’s Short Film Camp and he said “You mean the autistic kids and regular kids make films together?” My reply “Yes!” His response “I don’t think that’s a good idea!”

Michele Nichols

Claudia Clarinet
I think Mike Savage’s remark about autistic children’s just needing a good spanking to make them behave would rank right up there with the worst things that I have heard. Not believing that sensory issues are real would be right up there too.

Louisa Martin
I hate than whenever there is a Maths question they all look at me, cos as I’m aspie I should be good at Maths! Also when people ask what is your special talent? (I usually say punching ignorant people)

Gisela Slater-Walker
Nurses in local hospital asked me (about my husband). What’s Asperger syndrome? Does he talk? Will he pull his tubes out? Is he violent?

Donna Williams
apparently REAL autistic people don’t have health disorders, don’t have co-morbids and couldn’t have anxiety/stress induced dissociative disorders. I’ve of course also heard we can’t feel abuse, that we wouldn’t understand we were abused b…ecause we’re autistic, that we don’t cry and also don’t have any sense of humor. I think this qualifies others for a diagnosis of SEVERE IGNORANCE with a CO-MORBID OF BIGOTRY whether this BULLSHIT comes from purists on or off the spectrum, identified with purist glorifications of the label or just as ridiculous demonisations of it.

Nicola Mortimer Mucklow
Its worth mentioning that those with the severest form of autism do actually have difficulty with most of the things mentioned above. In this age of promoting Neurodiversity, those most profoundly autistic people are unfortunately forgotten….
I imagine the carer or parent of a profoundly autistic person might be frustrated at the lack of services & discussion targeted at those least able.
Stereotyping is unhelpful, but for some on the spectrum it does correspond with reality or at least seems to. For those of us who only have experience of living with Aspergers or live with someone who has high functioning autism it is worth remembering there is also another face to the spectrum, that of those who live in a state of perpetual fear, unable to communicate & utterly locked in their world. Ps my son has HF autism, is happy, reads, writes, is empathic, has a fertile imagination, is demonstrative & has a girlfriend. : -)

Nora Watts
I can’t read this it is too funny /sad

Carla Campbell
My work collegue wen I told her my son is autistic ‘I bet he has blonde hair and blue eyes’!

Sondra Williams
that my youngest son could not be of aspergers because he was of too verbal, did not fixate to roller coasters and that he was of too smart

Keri Bowers
really not so specific, Donna… If I had just a penny every time I (sadly) heard a parent say “my child can’t (fill in the blank)”… I’d have a Starbuck’s coffee everyday for a year.

Susan Harvey
Unable to show emotion …. and my son who hugs and kisses me every day and tells me he loves me. Oh, and when he was around 5, he needed a good smack to sort him out! So there’s the answer, smack your children and autism wouldn’t exist – lol.

Monique Blakemore
‎”A person with Aspergers won’t know what to do unless told what is needed”. Hmm

Tanya Longbottom
Have heard a lot of these and it just makes me sad that people can really think these things. Why do we have to label or judge each other.

Lisa Marie Beddell
I think some autistics may get so frustrated with there difficulties they just say “i cant do this” out of pure frustration because thats how it feels at the time. there has been times i have just wanted to give up and said “i just cant do this anymore” it doesnt really mean we cant it just feels that way sometimes.

Gaia Charis Re
my severely autistic teenage son….’Do you REALLY think he’s in there somewhere ?’

Lisa Marie Beddell
Using the word “cant” is a dead end at least the word “challenging” and “difficult” have a glimmer of hope there.

Susan Mann
following my evaluation, the professional who diagnosed me with AS said to My best friend (at that time), “I knew she had it, as soon as I looked at her eyes.”

Gabrielle Hogg
one person said “oh i though Autistic people can’t talk” and she was the receptionist right next door to where my presentation was taking place! oh and another one Autistic people can’t live on there own or Autistic people can’t work!!!

Gillian Loughran
‎”So young man can you talk”. Doctor ‘s words to my son who I brought to his surgery to check if he had an ear infection. My son was so embarrassed. I was so angry. I told him that I thought it would be best if we went to see a homeopath. He sure wasn’t happy about that one.

Gabrielle Hogg
oh yes I get that one all the time. or everyone gets anxious and can’t talk so why do you need your cell phone added to the disability allowance and plus you can write.

Lisa Marie Beddell
Saying we cant live independently is a really bad one if somebody said that to me id probably give him an ear bashing i run my own home and have a first class honours so saying we cant be independent ggrr but its important to remember that some severely autistics may find living on there own very difficult

Susan Mann Reading
all of these comments, it occurs to me that many times, people with Autism become objects, not humans, when people hear the term Autism. The is quite ironic, really! I guess folks immediately start mentally retrieving popular media images when they hear the word Autism, and feel compelled to share what they “know” about it.

Gabrielle Hogg
but then its quite ironic when us Autistics well some of us see others as objects rather then people when we were growing up!

Lisa Marie Beddell
It seems to me they are hearing the word autism and instantly thinking that we all have classic autism because classic autistic sadly may not be able to do these things i think a lot of people have not heard of aspergers so instantly label all aspies as classic cos that is all that they have heard of understand ignorant yes but they may never of had the experience of have known somebody with aspergers.

Donna Williams
Hi Lisa, I have the opposite. I’m 30% meaning deaf at best and sometimes only understand 50% of the speech I hear. In waiting rooms I regularly can hear my name called and have no idea its a word, think its just noise. I struggle to fill… out a form as the lines seem random, struggle to get meaning from reading but am great with bullet points, mind maps. I sometimes can’t recognise a person who I saw on the other side of the table when they return 2 min later at the side of the table, and I’m context blind and still object blind if objects are put in places that don’t lend meaning and I don’t see them used… so I have to advocate… I have autism…. not Aspergers… because when people meet me and assume AS they do all kinds of things I can’t track at all and when I start to use my strategies instead of realising I’m a very clever person with autism/agnosias they thing, wow, this Aspie is sooo disabled… and I find that stupid and demeaning… plus they presume I can’t read non-verbal cues and because I grew up meaning deaf, meaning blind, face blind and seeing my world in fragments I’m really keyed into movement and tone… so they treat me like an Aspie and my non-verbal skills are really high level so I feel they are treating me as if I’m emotionally ‘stupid’…. so rather ironic 🙂

Susan Mann
My neighbor rented, “Joshua and the Whale”, because she knew I had AS, and demanded that I watch it with her. As was typical, she also invited another person over, w/o telling me. I was the one who had asked the local video store to order it for me, but the neighbor did not know this…rented it before I did. I had intended to watch it alone, for reasons most of you here will “get”. Any way, several times during the movie, she would ask, “Is that how you feel”, or laugh and say, “that’s how you are.” I know she meant well, but I couldn’t wait for the movie to end, so I could leave and go home.

Kelly Redden
People with autism dont look at you and are not affectionate. If a child is able to speak, they are not autistic. Unbelievable!

Lynne Festa
one dangerous belief that some doctors and dentists have is that people with autism don’t feel pain, so don’t need anaesthetic!!
i thought this belief had died out, but i know of a friend’s child who was recently refused pain relief for tooth extraction!

Ryan McReynolds
Oh gosh there are moments when I commented I am autistic myself and such persons have said “you sound intellegent.’ as if being autistic and/or disabled is suppose to mean stupid and I am like autistic don’t mean stupid, sure I am autistic but I have a brain, some people say I sound like a lawyer.

Donna Williams
when I was being abused my abuser told an onlooker, it doesn’t matter, she can’t feel it anyway. I had pain agnosia but did feel pain, I just couldn’t tell where it was an it didn’t connect to expression. As an adult I had severe PTSD from such things and the fact I had no ability to express it or gain help meant the only way I could …live with it was dissociation, ultimately dx’d with DID. So when F&%^ wits say to me “you couldn’t have autism if you have DID” I just keep seeing what happened… all the times I was openly treated as someone who had no ability to experience pain, loss, no emotions, and inside I had all of these… and the psychopath who found it entertaining to do these things to me because I couldn’t respond and because somehow as a person with disabilities I was apparently a lesser human, less than an animal because I was clearly a broken human… labeled psychotic at age 2… 1963… it was a licence to do what my abuser liked. That onlooker was a relative… several witnessed abuse and did nothing… I have spoken to several, forgiven them… all either took solace in the belief/hope that I couldn’t understand/feel it, others left because it was too sickening to watch, once I was older I got apologies once I was a speaking person and they knew I had felt/understood… as though NOW I was a human… they accepted this Nazism because my abuser was my parent… and because my abuser flagwaved her ‘burden’ at having a ‘thing’ like me. Progressively people did feel sorry I had a thing like a psychopath/alcoholic/narcissist/sadist for a parent, some regretted deeply they didn’t help me… and I comforted THEM as they cried over what they hadn’t done, over their guilt… tough one.

Barbara Jacobs
From my PhD research: a teacher of a child on the spectrum said, ‘He has got to work out ways to control his disability so he can be acceptable in social situations.He has got to try and become acceptable.’

Marla Wise Miller
Maybe somebody should write an article or book titled ‘Your Not Autistic if…..’. Then after each comment you could put a big FALSE!

Lisa Baker
How about what autistic people can do……. my dad upon hearing my concerns about my son’s development “he’ll grow out of it”

Lisa Marie Beddell
By using the word “cant” they are removing the possibility of even letting us try and undermining our self esteem to the point where we might even believe we cant we should be encouraged to try new things to embrace life for who we are i dislike it when people try to take the opportunities away from us by using the word cant

Marla Wise Miller
‎’Normal’ is in the mind of the beholder! In my book, normal is highly over rated! I am not autistic, but I have never been accused of being normal. One person said I was weird. Well, according to Webster, that was a compliment and I said Thank You!

Parasuram Ramamoorthi
people with Autism cannot marry and if they marry cannot have children.

Alyson Bradley AsPlanet
We have all the words here, too many, so all I have to say is the world is full of bullshit at times and its about time those that think, thought they were in control of us, please get a life, as its time to turn the tables. I feel who’s with me 🙂

Jodi Terenzi
My son was sliding cans off a shelf in the supermarket whilst flapping and screaming and I was just trying to get the shopping done, when a lady with a child in a trolley and what appeared to be a grandmother loudly said “She obviously has no control over that child” To which I replied even louder “SINCE WHEN WERE YOU THE EXPERT ON AUTISM?” she just put her head down and walked away!

Judy Endow
I was one time asked after a presentation if I had learned to tie my shoes yet. I am in my 50’s, raised three kids, have a master’s degree, etc – all things that were mentioned when I was introduced before my speak. After I answered “yes, I can tie my shoes” the woman told me that I did not have autism! I said, “Thank you for your opinion. My doctors over the years disagree.”

Ruth Hatton
How about this one? “She looks normal”

Jodi Terenzi
Ha! Because she is! I hate the word ‘normal’ and I hate it when people say “if he was a normal 13 year old” I call the majority of the population ‘Average’ perhaps I shouldn’t but I am an average person and My son is a very special person..hes not this nor that..he is unique like everyone else!

Tracy Hall
I was told I couldnt have aspergers cause I was too caring

Allison Chapman
I hate it when someone says “your son doesn’t know the answer or can’t ‘get’ it”, I always tell them that he knows all of the answers, it’s the question he doesn’t understand, so rethink how you’re giving the question. I also hate that some people label everything as “behavior” instead of looking further to find out what’s going on environmentally or physically like an infection, seizure, sensory overload or pain..

Tracy Hall
I was not diagnosed as a child although mum had me going to several therapists to find out what the problem was, all they said was it was her fault, she was making me behave that way. before my daughter was diagnosed I was also told her behaviour was my fault due to having post natal depression with her as a baby

Lisa Marie Beddell
As soon as i can im going to pay donna and get some help, cos i think i dont have aspergers i have autism no body can know what goes on in our own heads better than we know ourselves i know that im having difficulties and what im capable of and not capable and i kind of know talking to all these ppl with a.s and autism i just know in myself that my difficulties are slightly more than aspergers i certain i have h.f.a the other aspies say to me well i dont do that i dont have that many meltdowns.

Jodi Terenzi
Here’s a funny one! In the uk we have a soap opera called Eastenders..anyway..there were 2 characters on the underground railway, one of them was heavily pregnant and the other one asks “Are you o.k”? to which the heavily preggers one replied “No, Im in Labour” … Then my autistic son chirps up >”Is that near London”? lmao!

Randall J. Currie
Autistic people don’t feel the same as the rest of us.

Love Sanchez-Suarez
a psych major once told me “but you are obviously intelligent, you can’t be autistic”. i was also told by a friend that maybe i shouldn’t own a home, either, because i have made some mistakes. that maybe “people like me” should just rent. but i didn’t tell my friend she shouldn’t ever fall in love again just because she had 3 bad mistakes for husbands.

Rebecca Briggs
My Dad told me I was broken. Good thing I didn’t believe him.

Judy Endow
One time I attended an autism conference dance in the evening after having keynoted in the morning. A stranger came rushing up to me at the dance and said, “I want to know all about your potty training.” I told her that I didn’t remember my… potty training. She wanted my input for her child who she was having difficulty potty training, but sheez – it was an odd way to approach…..and I was thinking….now why do people find it so easy to spot my “lack” of social skills, but think nothing of asking something in this manner and context LOL

Richard Maguire
Autistic people are self centred 🙁

Jodi Terenzi
I was told My son would do ‘nothing’ would never talk..would never learn..would never understand..etc. And while I think he dosnt understand completely ‘Love’ I know he feels love from me and when he is sick..he cannot tell… me what is the matter..but I work it out..his head hurts..so its his tummy! It would be daft to make assumptions about Autistic people..their not fools and dont suffer fools either..Thats a brilliant quality in my opinion!

Judy Endow
I was told that I couldn’t possibly have autism because people with autism cannot have sex. (I have three children.) The woman went on to tell me in all earnestness that I could trust her because she was an anesthesiologist and had put a little boy with autism to sleep when he was having surgery and wasn’t it wonderful to know I did not have autism.

Sondra Williams
judy you seem to attract much of these bizarre stories of things you could be of to write a book but in all truth i to much so had of the giggles over this one of the sex things.

Leigh Ann Fowler
Oh, Judy, you’re kidding! You’ve been cured by an anesthesiologist! (Sarcasm alert)

Isabelle Monod
a pediatric psychiatrist , when i was asking for a prescription for my son to have “ortophonie” ”
( speech help ) raised his eyes to the ceiling & answered ” with him? i don’t know where we are going to find the language !”

Sraddha Cartwright
That an autistic person cannot be a capable, loving parent. As quoted by a psychologist performing a parenting assessment on myself and my ex… (Am a parent, with AS, of four daughters, two of whom are AS/SPD).

Love Sanchez-Suarez
i was asked by a former boss “so, with this autistic stuff, how does it work for you to have a love life?” or something like that. this was like 8yrs ago and she is not my current boss (she retired) and i know she meant it out of sincere curiosity (and her own history of love life confusions) but still… WE’re the ones with the bad social skills?!

Hope Elizabeth Welker
‎”…express affection.” It’s pathetic how many people STILL think that! My son is MUCH more affectionate than any other 16 yo boys I know!

Elizabeth Websdale
I was told by my sons autism specific school, when I asked for readers that autistic kids just learn the words off by heart they aren’t comprehending. He only needed enough reading to be able to shop when he is an adult. My son used to act… out the Dr Seuss stories he read to us. Again when his younger sister went through the school and we asked for readers the teacher said we are not used to students who can read. I notice someone further up in the comments mentions about those more severely affected on the spectrum. I guess that would include my two children. What I find sad is that people make assumptions about what they can and cant do and set restrictions on them. Don’t judge people on their “cover” by what you see on the outside. The hand flapping, the stims, the difficulty using the spoken word. Never assume you know them by just looking at them. That is the most ignorant assumption of all. I am rather tired of the labeling of people as high and low functioning autistic. Since when was someone a low functioning human being?

Love Sanchez-Suarez
also there seems to be a lot of non-linear learning in autistics. like a person will learn something but can only demonstrate the thing they learned some days, months, or even years later. and variety… ppl who can’t talk but taught themselves to read at, like, age 2. ppl who can talk one day and not another. anything is possible. i remember the same people who thought i was a screw-up in the social politics of a previous job, telling me they didn’t believe i was autistic, or if i was, then must be very HF. well, hello?! i was high functioning as a teacher (after 10 yrs of practice, i finally got used to it!) and low-functioning at office politics. i’m still LF at many things and HF at many others. it’s all so various. every person is so various.

Caz Lane
I had a nursery manager who, when I explained my then 4 year old was undergoing assessment for autism, proclaimed that she knew all about children with autism and ‘they are the ones that dont talk arent they’ just before she went on to brag… how she had abused the special needs system to obtain funding for her daughter who was too ‘special’ for a state school to go private funded out of the already strangled budget because of her sophisticated background and exceptional intelligence (of course because of her superior parentage) and who later refused to let a specialist in to assess my boy or reply to correspondence. She really was a deluded, ignorant, despicable being who should never have been allowed to work with any child given various outbursts of truly psycho behaviour she exhibited whenever her superior wisdom was questioned in any way (which was quite often oddly enough).

Carmel Anne Jones
Autistic people don’t have empathy. That’s the most ignorant comment I have ever heard about autistics.

Donna Williams, BA Hons, Dip Ed.
Author, artist, singer-songwriter, screenwriter.
Autism consultant and public speaker.


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