All sources used in this article are linked directly in the text AND at the end of this post.
Autism is a word, label or diagnosis that is often times also associated with different misconceptions or myths.
As I mentioned in Part 1 of this 3-part series, one of the most frustrating things about having a child on the Autism Spectrum is having to deal with misconceptions and myths that still seem to be taken as complete truths. Hearing the diagnosis can be a shock for some, while others embrace it with open arms. While some may be in complete denial about even the slightest possibility that their child may be on the Spectrum, others see it as a blessing to know and be able to find ways to help their child become productive members of society. Some may know family members who are on the Spectrum and potentially believe it to be nothing more than a phase, while others pledge their support regardless of where the person falls on the Spectrum. Wherever you find yourself in the midst of this organized chaos we call the Autism Spectrum, it is still important to understand what is myth and what is truth when it comes to Autism.
Individuals diagnosed with Autism are all intellectually disabled
In other words, Individuals diagnosed with Autism are in some way, shape or form, mentally retarded. The term mental retardation was an actual term used by providers to describe below-normal intellectual development, but the term intellectual disability is being used more often now.
While individuals with Autism can also be diagnosed as being intellectually disabled, most on the Spectrum have average or above average intellect; meaning they are NOT mentally retarded. Now let’s take a closer look, according to the non-profit organization Autism Speaks:
- Roughly 40% of all persons on the Spectrum are intellectually disabled (some form of mental retardation)
- Roughly 25% of all persons on the Spectrum are non-verbal; meaning they are not able to communicate with words
So, considering that less than 50% of all individuals with Autism are considered to be intellectually disabled, that means that a majority of those on the Spectrum are at average or, in some cases, ABOVE-average intellect. Additionally, if roughly 25% are non-verbal, that means that roughly 75% of those who fall on the Spectrum have the ability to verbally communicate in some form.
Wouldn’t that mean that being autistic does not automatically make one intellectually disabled (mentally retarded)? Technically, intellectual disability is what is called a comorbid disorder. In other words, intellectual disability (mental retardation) is a SECOND condition that accompanies the Autism; therefore, Autism does not equal intellectual disability (mental retardation).
There is so much more information out there. Check out my Resources post for Autism Awareness to get you started.
How do you spread awareness?
Disclosure: Everything I share is solely based on my personal experience and is for informational purposes only. This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please view my disclosure policy.
If you, or a loved one, are in a crisis or are in need for medical or mental health attention, please use the appropriate channels to get help.
Frequently Asked Questions. (2016). Autism Speaks. Retrieved from: https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/faq
“Intellectual Disability (Mental Retardation).” (n.d.). Autism Spectrum Disorders Fact Sheets. Retrieved from: http://autism-help.org/comorbid-mental-retardation.htm