- February 7, 2021

Dear Parents,

Thank you for joining the Vietnamese Parent Support Group. It was an honored for me to see parents from all provinces of Vietnam virtually. You brought to the group many beautiful stories and sharing. It was 8AM on a Sunday morning and you could do anything else, but decided to come to the support group. That really warms my heart.

The topic of the past week was: MYTHS AND FACTS ABOUT AUTISM. Your participation was appreciated! Here is the summary of a few myths that have been shared and the truth behind them.

MYTH #1: Children with Autism do not want friends.
TRUTH: Children with Autism struggle with social skills, which make it difficult for them to interact with peers. They might appear shy or unfriendly, but that was because they are unable to communicate their desire for relationships, not because they do not want friends.

MYTH #2 Children with Autism don’t have feelings or empathy. They can’t understand other people’s emotions.
TRUTH: Children with Autism feel as much, if not more, empathy as others, but they may express it in ways that are harder to recognize. Children with Autism struggles to understand unspoken interpersonal communication. When emotions are communicated more directly, children are much more likely to feel empathy and compassion for others.

MYTH #3: Children with Autism are intellectually disabled.
TRUTH: 33% of children with ASD have an intellectual disability, with an IQ below 70, 25% are in the borderline range (IQ 71-85) and 42% have IQ scores in the average to above average range (IQ over 85).

MYTH #4: Children with Autism are geniuses or have savant abilities. TRUTH: A small number of autistic people (less than 10%) are so-called “geniuses” or “savants.” Such as memorize a phone book, calculate days of the week for years into the future, complete super hard puzzles…. However, not all children with Autism have these particular skills.

MYTH #5: The prevalence of Autism has been steadily increasing for the last 40 years.
TRUTH: Per CDC, in 1975, an estimated 1 in 1,500 had autism. In 2016, an estimated 1 in 54 had an ASD. Boys are 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with Autism than girls.

MYTH #6: Autism is caused by poor parenting.
TRUTH: In 1950s, there was an assumption that Autism was caused by emotionally distant or cold parents. It is now firmly established that the development of autism has nothing to do with parenting styles.

MYTH #7: Autism is caused by vaccines.
TRUTH: This myth was as old as the earth! There is no evidence that childhood vaccination causes Autism. Numerous studies continue to confirm that there is no direct evidence that links vaccines to the development of Autism.

MYTH #8: Autism can be cured.
TRUTH: Autism is NOT a disease. Currently there is currently no cure for ASD. Early prevention and intervention can reduce the severity of symptoms of ASD. It is never too late. The earlier, the better!

I hope you will always build on your child’s strengths and help your child expand new skills based on his unique profile strengths and needs.

If you are a Vietnamese parent of a special need child, you can sign up here.

I look forward to seeing you next weekend!Warmly,Mimi Thương, Ph.D.