Myth: If I’ve met an autistic person (or seen the movie Rain Man), I have a good idea of what all autistic people are like.
Fact: Autistic people are as different from one another as they could be. The only elements that all autistic people seem to have in common are unusual difficulty with social communication. The expression "when you've met one person with autism you've met one person with autism" is absolutely accurate.
Myth: Autistic people cannot feel or express love or empathy.
Fact: The vast majority of autistic people are extremely capable of feeling and expressing love, though sometimes in idiosyncratic ways. What's more, many autistic people are far more sympathetic than the average person, though they may not always express their sympathy in a typical manner.
Some people with autism need help developing empathy because they have a difficult time guessing what other people might be feeling based on their body language. Downcast eyes or a turned back don't necessarily signal "sadness" or "anger" to a person with autism. Once another person's feelings are explained, however, most autistic people respond with true empathy.
Fact: It's true that some individuals with an autism diagnosis are nonverbal or nearly nonverbal. But the autism spectrum also includes extremely verbal individuals with very high reading skills. Diagnoses at the higher end of the spectrum are increasing much faster than diagnoses at the lower end of the spectrum.
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