In the past, before autism was fully understood it was often misdiagnosed as childhood schizophrenia. The idea that autism was something that only affected children persisted for a while afterwards. Mostly this is simply due to general ignorance of people, and the fact that a lot of neuro-typical people in the past have based their knowledge of autism on what they see in the media – which is usually a depiction of somebody who is very young. The idea that autism only affects children also links to misconceptions about a cure, and the concept of growing out of autism.
The fact that some children can learn to `mask` their autism as they grow older, is often mistaken as them growing out of it. In reality masking, as has been stated before, is simply a way of covering up the autism – it is akin to tying to plug up holes in the foundation of a house with tape. The full extent of the holes might not be visible any more, but that does not mean there are not still problems under the surface. – masking autism overall can tend to be quite unhealthy as trying to fit-in can be exhausting, and it can lead to depression, and anxiety, and even an `Autistic Crash`*. But even the more healthy ways of dealing with any negatives that autism may bring, such as working hard with various techniques, and learning to get some control over some of the challenges, can inadvertently perpetuate the stereo-type that autism is found solely in children. As people grow older, and are able to use techniques to control some of their more obvious autistic `traits`, to the outside world they may appear to be becoming less and less autistic – they are not. And most people involved in the autism community knows this.
People still seem to think that there is some kind of cure for autism. The simple fact is that there isn’t a cure. There are tools and techniques that can help to improve challenges, and negatives, and help autistic people embrace the positives of autism. But what there isn’t is some kind of pill, or injection or diet fad that can turn a person from autistic in to neuro-typical. The vast majority of people with autism are accepting of this, and don’t wish for a cure. The fact that some people believe there is a kind of cure is one of the few things that is continuing the myth that autism affects only children in this day and age. And sometimes parents try to make waves by saying they cured their child`s autism by the time they were young adults, but this is scientifically impossible.
Thankfully this is one misconception that is nowhere near as prevalent today as it was a few years ago. Most people know that autism is life-long. And even though the first signs of it are generally seen in childhood, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t millions of adults living with autism across the world. It would be good if this were to become even more widely known. General knowledge of autism is better now than it ever has been in the past, and so it is hoped the fact that children with autism grow in to adults with autism, may become common knowledge sooner rather than later.
* To read more about Autistic Crash read Paddy-Joe’s article: https://www.autismdailynewscast.com/what-is-an-autistic-crash-and-how-can-you-avoid-one/12881/paddy-joe/