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The Top 10 – ‘Top 10 about autism’ – (Autism Top Ten) 1-5

The views expressed by the authors below do not necessarily reflect the views of this website or of the Living Autism team members.
We have put together a selection of some of the best ‘Top 10s’ for autism that are making their way around the internet and social media.

The Top 10 Facts About Autism

By Lisa Jo Rudy, Guide

Parents of children with autism quickly discover the top autism facts. But what about in-laws, teachers, coaches, and cousins? Few people outside the immediate family really want to read 20 closely-written pages from the National Institutes of Health. Here are some bare bones basics for those who know and interact with your child – along with links to more in-depth information for those who want to know.

1. Autism Is a ‘Spectrum’ Disorder

People with autism can be a little autistic or very autistic. Thus, it is possible to be bright, verbal, and autistic as well as mentally retarded, non-verbal and autistic. A disorder that includes such a broad range of symptoms is often called a spectrum disorder; hence the term “autism spectrum disorder.” The most significant shared symptom is difficulty with social communication (eye contact, conversation, taking another’s perspective, etc.).

2. Asperger Syndrome is a High Functioning Form of Autism

Asperger Syndrome (AS) is considered to be a part of the autism spectrum. The only significant difference between AS and High Functioning Autism is that people with AS usually develop speech right on time while people with autism usually have speech delays. People with AS are generally very bright and verbal, but have significant social deficits (which is why AS has earned the nickname “Geek Syndrome”).

3. People With Autism Are Different from One Another

If you’ve seen Rainman or a TV show about autism, you may think you know what autism “looks like.” In fact, though, when you’ve met one person with with autism you’ve met ONE person with autism. Some people with autism are chatty; others are silent. Many have sensory issues, gastrointestinal problems, sleep difficulties and other medical problems. Others may have social-communication delays – and that’s it.

4. There Are Dozens of Treatments for Autism – But No ‘Cure’

So far as medical science is aware, there is at present no cure for autism. That’s not to say that people with autism don’t improve, because many improve radically. But even when people with autism increase their skills, they are still autistic, which means they think and perceive differently from most people. Children with autism may receive many types of treatments. Treatments may be biomedical, sensory, behavioral, developmental or even arts-based. Depending upon the child, certain treatments will be more successful than others.

5. There Are Many Theories on the Cause of Autism, But No Consensus

You may have seen or heard news stories about possible causes of autism. Theories range from mercury in infant vaccines to genetics to the age of the parents to almost everything else. At present, most researchers think autism is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors – and it’s quite possible that different people’s symptoms have different causes.

6. Children Rarely “Outgrow” Autism

Autism is a usually lifelong diagnosis. For some people, often (but not always) those who receive intensive early intervention, symptoms may decrease radically. People with autism can also learn coping skills to help them manage their difficulties and even build on their unique strengths. But a person with autism will probably be autistic throughout their lives.

7. Families Coping with Autism Need Help and Support

Even “high functioning” autism is challenging for parents. “Low functioning” autism can be overwhelming to the entire family. Families may be under a great deal of stress, and they need all the non-judgemental help they can get from friends, extended family, and service providers. Respite care (someone else taking care of the person with autism while other family members take a break) can be a marriage and/or family-saver!

8. There’s No ‘Best School’ for a Child with Autism

You may have heard of a wonderful “autism school,” or read of a child doing amazingly well in a particular type of classroom setting. While any given setting may be perfect for any given child, every child with autism has unique needs. Even in an ideal world, “including” a child with autism in a typical class may not be the best choice. Decisions about autistic education are generally made by a team made up of parents, teachers, administrators and therapists who know the child well.

9. There Are Many Unfounded Myths About Autism

The media is full of stories about autism, and many of those stories are less than accurate. For example, you may have heard that people with autism are cold and unfeeling, or that people with autism never marry or hold productive jobs. Since every person with autism is different, however, such “always” and “never” statements simply don’t hold water. To understand a person with autism, it’s a good idea to spend some time getting to know him or her – personally!

10. Autistic People Have Many Strengths and Abilities

It may seem that autism is a wholly negative diagnosis. But almost everyone on the autism spectrum has a great to deal to offer the world. People with autism are among the most forthright, non-judgemental, passionate people you’ll ever meet.

The Top 10 Things You Should Know About Autism

By Rob Gorski, Lost and Tired; Confessions of an autism dad.

1. Autism is not like you see on TV. Don’t think you know about Autism because you’ve seen Rain Man.

2. Every person with Autism, is as unique and beautiful as a winters snowflake. Different symptoms, personalities, likes, dislikes, hopes, fears, dreams, strengths and weaknesses. Please don’t generalize them.

3. The Autistic children of today are the Autistic adults of tomorrow. Autism doesn’t go away on their 18th birthday.

4. An Autism related meltdown is most often a sign that the person is in extreme distress and is not necessarily a discipline issue or a sign of bad parenting.

5. Never assume that just because a person with Autism can’t talk, they can’t hear you. Your words can and will hurt, so please be kind.

6. Not every person with Autism is a savant. This is a stereotype and in fact, quite rare.

7. People with Autism are very, very intelligent. If they have a problem learning, perhaps it’s the way you’re teaching.

8. A leading cause of death in children with Autism is drowning. Please be aware of this, especially if you live near a body of water, of any size.

9. Simply because a person with Autism can have difficulty showing emotion, doesn’t mean they don’t experience it.

10. Every families experience with Autism, can and will, quite often be different. Some experience struggle and others, not so much. Never assume that one families experience with Autism, mirrors that of another families.

Top 10 terrific traits of autistic people

By Lisa jo Rudy, Autism Support Network

1. Autistic People Rarely Lie

We all claim to value the truth, but almost all of us tell little white lies. All, that is, except people on the autism spectrum. To them, truth is truth — and a good word from a person on the spectrum is the real deal.

2. People on the Autism Spectrum Live in the Moment

How often do typical people fail to notice what’s in front of their eyes because they’re distracted by social cues or random chitchat? People on the autism spectrum truly attend to the sensory input that surrounds them. Many have achieved the ideal of mindfulness.

3. People with Autism Rarely Judge Others

Who’s fatter? Richer? Smarter? For people on the autism spectrum, these distinctions hold much less importance than for typical folks. In fact, people on the spectrum often see through such surface appearances to discover the real person.

4. Autistic People are Passionate

Of course, not all autistic people are alike. But many are truly passionate about the things, ideas and people in their lives. How many “typical” people can say the same?

5. People with Autism Are Not Tied to Social Expectations

If you’ve ever bought a car, played a game or joined a club to fit in, you know how hard it is to be true to yourself. But for people with autism, social expectations can be honestly irrelevant. What matters is true liking, interest and passion — not keeping up with the Joneses.

6. People with Autism Have Terrific Memories

How often do typical people forget directions, or fail to take note of colors, names, and other details? People on the autism spectrum are often much more tuned in to details. They may have a much better memory than their typical peers for all kind of critical details.

7. Autistic People Are Less Materialistic

Of course, this is not universally true — but in general, people with autism are far less concerned with outward appearance than their typical peers. As a result, they worry less about brand names, hairstyles and other expensive but unimportant externals than most people do.

8. Autistic People Play Fewer Head Games

Who was that woman, and why were you looking at her? I know I TOLD you I didn’t mind if you went out, but why did you believe me? Most autistic people don’t play games like these — and they assume that you won’t either. It’s a refreshing and wonderful change from the Peyton Place emotional roller coaster that mars too many typical relationships!

9. Autistic People Have Fewer Hidden Agendas

Most of the time, if a person on the autism spectrum tells you what he wants — he is telling you what he wants. No need to beat around the bush, second guess, and hope you’re reading between the lines!

10. People with Autism Open New Doors for Neurotypicals

For some of us neurotypicals, having an autistic person in our lives has had a profound positive impact on our perceptions, beliefs and expectations. For me, at least, being the mom of a son on the autism spectrum has released me from a lifetime of “should” – and offered me a new world of “is.”

The Top 10 Things you need to know about people with Autism

By University of South Florida

1. Individuals with Autism ultimately desire what we all desire: choice and control in their lives, valued social roles, and to contribute to their community

2. Individuals with Autism often exhibit differences in their communication

3. Individuals with Autism often exhibit differences in their social interaction

4. Individuals with Autism often exhibit persistence in their thoughts, interests, activities, and/or behaviors

5. Individuals with Autism often learn best when using visual supports and hands-on experiences

6. People with Autism teach you to open your mind and think outside of the box

7. People with Autism want friends, fun activities and meaningful work, just like all of us

8. Children and adults with Autism can learn new skills with specific teaching strategies

9. Individuals with Autism are lovable human beings

10. The tendency of many individuals with autism spectrum disorders to engage in restricted interests and activities need not always be a limitation. Sometimes it is possible push through the initial resistance to new things and find out that the person can actually enjoy a new food, a new form of entertainment, a new restaurant, or a new toy; or he or she might excel in a new skill or a new responsibility. The use of a little creative thinking, some visual strategies, pre-preparation, gentle persistence, and appropriate reinforcement can lead to some amazing results.

The top 10 myths about autism

By Autism All Stars

There are so many myths and misconceptions about autism that it would be impossible to list them all, but here are our top ten favourite (or least favourite) myths and why we can understand people believing that they’re true.


People on the autism spectrum tend to have either average or above average intelligence levels, and any diagnosis of an autistic spectrum condition will have nothing whatsoever to do with how intelligent they are. Autism is simply a difference in the way the neurons in the brain communicate with each other, which leads to difficulties with social interaction, communication and rigidity in behaviours.

So why do people believe this myth?

Well, because of the specific difficulties that autistic people deal with, they can perform poorly in certain types of test, while excelling in others. This can be mistaken for a general lack of intelligence in all areas, and can often lead autistic people to believe themselves to be stupid when they’re actually far from it. Some autistic people have learning difficulties and some don’t, in exactly the same way as some ‘neuro-typical’ or ‘normal’ people have them.

The other reason people believe this one is because of autistic people’s unusual movements and behaviours. They can look very, very strange if you don’t understand them, so it’s easy to see why this myth persists, but that doesn’t make it true – a diagnosis of autism means only one thing – you’re autistic; intelligence is something entirely different.


Even though autism is listed in the DSM-IV (Diagnostic Statistical Manual) which covers all mental health issues, it is NOT classified as a mental illness. Autism is a neurological condition where the brain processes information differently due to its wiring.

So why do people believe this myth?

Again, it’s easy to see why people would think someone whose behaviour is so unusual has some kind of mental illness, but there is also another reason this myth persists: psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder can very often accompany autism and can be made worse by a failure to recognise the underlying cause. However, being autistic does not automatically mean you will have any of these other issues – A diagnosis of autism means only one thing – you’re autistic; mental illness is something entirely different.


There has been extensive scientific research into the causes of autism, leading to many theories as to its origins. Years ago, before the condition was properly understood, many people assumed that inadequate parenting skills had something to do with the behavioural difficulties associated with the condition. The latest evidence all points towards autism being a genetically inherited condition which has been proven to affect the functions of various parts of the brain, leading to the very specific behaviours autistic people exhibit. Since bad parenting has never shown up on any type of brain scan, we can safely assume it has nothing to do with the original cause of the condition!

So why do people believe this myth?

Many autistic children find being in a public place totally overwhelming and will go into instant meltdown – screaming, running away, head banging, wrecking shops etc. and the majority of people seeing this kind of behaviour would expect parents to be angry and discipline their child. The parents of autistic children understand that shouting at or even smacking their child cannot change the way the child’s brain is wired, so they appear to simply allow the behaviour to continue, leading to much disapproval from passers-by.

Everyone behaves differently when they’re in different places (their private and public personas) but with more able autistic people, this trait can be far more extreme. An autistic person’s brain learns a specific set of rules in one environment and has great difficulty applying those rules to another situation, so for instance they may enjoy eating certain foods at school or at work, but refuse them at home. If they’re able to understand the social rules, autistic people can try very hard to follow them even if they don’t understand why they’re so important to other people, but the strain of trying to fit in and follow these rules outside the home can take its toll, and many autistic people become overloaded both emotionally and physically, having massive outbursts or ‘meltdowns’ when they get indoors. This marked inconsistency in behaviour is a classic sign of an autistic spectrum condition manifesting itself, but is very often mistaken for naughtiness and lack of parental discipline since they can be immaculately behaved in public or when in the care of other people – a diagnosis of autism means only one thing – you’re autistic; bad parenting is something entirely different.


Autism is a spectrum condition, meaning that the level of difficulties autistic people face varies hugely from person to person. One of the main areas affected by autism is the ability to process, interpret and express language verbally, but autistic people are autistic, not stupid, and many will find ways to compensate for this, allowing their spoken language skills to improve over time. In fact, one of the recognised characteristics of people with Asperger’s is their enormous vocabulary and their tendency to speak for far longer than is generally acceptable about things they find interesting.

So why do people believe this myth?

The answer to this is very straightforward – unless someone is profoundly affected by their autism, the vast majority of people simply don’t realise the person they’re speaking to is on the spectrum at all. They might find them odd or a little obsessive, but if the only people they actually recognise as being autistic are those who are unable to communicate with spoken language, it’s no wonder they assume autistic people can’t speak. Asperger’s is often referred to as ‘the invisible disorder’ for this very reason. One very important point to remember here is that there are other ways in which profoundly autistic people can communicate, for instance using body gestures or sounds, and once you get to know these signals, you quickly realise that not being able to speak doesn’t mean they have nothing to say! A diagnosis of autism means only one thing – you’re autistic; the ability to communicate with spoken language is something entirely different.


Male and female brains are wired differently, and the areas affected by autism are those most closely associated with male behaviour traits. Without stereotyping anyone, girls are generally better at communication, learning social skills, anger management, flexibility and multi-tasking than boys, simply because they’re designed that way. Boys tend to have a harder time learning these skills even without autism thrown into the mix, so when it is, its effects are far more obvious, hence boys are far more commonly diagnosed than girls because the autism is holding their development back to the point where intervention is needed.

So why do people believe this myth?

Firstly, there are many, many more boys diagnosed with an autistic spectrum condition than girls, which is understandable considering the differences in their brain wiring,so when the majority of people hear about someone being diagnosed, that someone is usually a boy. Secondly, girls are simply better at fitting in socially, and autistic women will go to extraordinary lengths to compensate for their difficulties or move attention away from them, so they appear ‘normal’ on the surface, while suffering greatly underneath. As a result there are a very large number of women and girls on the spectrum who have not been diagnosed and most likely never will be. Whether they need a formal diagnosis or not will depend on how much the autism affects their day to day life, but the fact is that they’re definitely out there, and there are a lot of them – a diagnosis of autism means only one thing – you’re autistic; being male or female is something entirely different.


Every parent of an autistic child whose symptoms have improved has heard this one! Autism is what is known as an ‘all pervasive’ condition, which means it affects every part of the person. In other words, there is no part of the way they think, feel or exist that isn’t coloured by autism to some degree or another. It is there from the second of conception to the end of their lifetime, and absolutely, categorically does not go anywhere. To ‘remove’ the autism from an autistic person would change everything they are, which is why the search for a ‘cure’ is such a controversial subject. No-one wants to see their children suffer, and of course children on the spectrum do struggle with life – some a little and some a great deal – so it’s understandable that people would look to cure what they see as the problem. However, autism is NOT a disease or an epidemic, it’s a way of being, and until this is accepted and understood, people on the spectrum will continue to suffer. Imagine being reprimanded for breathing in and out. You cannot exist any other way, and yet you’re constantly told there is something ‘wrong’ with you for doing so. You try and try and try to stop, and yet you can’t. Everyone else seems to know a mysterious way to exist without breathing, but try as you might, you simply can’t work out how they do it. You’re not stupid, so you very quickly realise that people think you’re somehow less than they are for not being able to understand. How long would it be before your self-esteem hit rock bottom and you fell into despair? Autistic people have no choice about being autistic, they simply are, and acceptance and understanding of the condition are the way forward, not fear, anger and eventual annihilation.

So why do people believe this myth?

Well, put simply it’s because the outward symptoms of autism do, in many cases, change as the people themselves grow up and change. Autistic people are people first, so they will develop and mature as everyone else does. The rates at which they mature will be different, but it will still happen. They might learn new coping strategies or find a group of supportive friends and colleagues who accept their quirks an allow them to live an outwardly ‘normal’ life. If you don’t understand the condition, of course you’re going to believe they’ve grown out of it, that’s to be expected. What goes on under the surface though is another matter, and the sheer hard work of ‘fitting in’ like this can lead to all manner of other problems arising, which is why recognition and diagnosis are so important – a diagnosis of autism means only one thing – you’re autistic; having a condition you can grow out of is something entirely different.


Many autistic people have amazing talents and skills in certain areas, yet struggle with basic things like tying their shoe laces. A large number have particular gifts in art, science or mathematics, but many others don’t and have instead a more generalised skill set. In extreme cases, the difference in skill levels from one subject to another is very large and this led to the wonderfully insulting term ‘idiot savant’ being applied to autistic people. It means ‘idiot genius’ and refers to those who struggle to function in everyday life yet show flashes of genius in their specialist areas of interest. It’s widely believed that the term ‘mad professor’ comes from the high number of university lecturers who are on the spectrum, although they’re mostly undiagnosed as yet. Being able to speak in depth and at length about quantum physics while wearing odd socks and making no eye contact doesn’t necessarily make you autistic, but if you also have anger management issues, frequently walk into doors, avoid social engagements and prefer atoms to people, you might want to give it some thought!

So why do people believe this myth?

Autistic people tend to be of either average or above average intelligence, and since the human mind is a remarkable and mostly undiscovered thing, the truth is that none of us know how much we’re really capable of. People on the spectrum don’t usually cram their minds full of things they consider unnecessary like wearing the latest fashion, following gossip or being popular, they simply focus on what interests them and give it their full attention. What would be achieved by ‘normal’ people if they did the same. Autistic people also think differently to others who are not on the spectrum, giving them insights into new concepts and inventions others might never have discovered. As a result they very often become recognised experts in their chosen field, the case of Albert Einstein being one of the most famous. Having an autistic spectrum condition doesn’t guarantee any specific talents though, because again, autistic people are all different, just like everyone else! A diagnosis of autism means only one thing – you’re autistic; being a genius is something entirely different.


In actual fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Autistic people can feel enormous compassion and empathy for others, often way too much, but what they struggle with is giving out the right signals so that people understand this about them. Expressing emotions outwardly is hard for autistic people, and coupled with their difficulties in reading and interpreting other people’s emotions based on non-verbal clues, this is a very tricky area for them. However, not being able to easily pick up clues as to how others are feeling and not being able to easily express how you are feeling either, is NOT the same thing as not feeling these things at all. Narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths have an actual lack of empathy for others, and these conditions have nothing to do with being on the autistic spectrum.

So why do people believe this myth?

Mainly it’s because autistic people appear to ignore how others feel and tend to override their wishes and replace them with their own. In fact, this is down to another area where autistic people struggle, that of ‘theory of mind’ – the ability to understand that others think differently to you, and know different things than you do. Someone on the spectrum may stand you up for a date because they’ve had to work late for instance, but not let you know they’re not coming because they assumed you already knew since they did. When challenged and asked ‘how do you think that made me feel?’ they will most likely become very defensive because they’re confused by this – you feel the same way they do, and they’re not upset because they already knew they wouldn’t be there. It’s easy to see why people would believe this myth, but with a little understanding, this aspect of their behaviour makes a lot more sense – a diagnosis of autism means only one thing – you’re autistic; having no empathy for other people is something entirely different.


People on the autism spectrum process many things differently to ‘normal’ or neuro-typical people, especially their emotions, so the way they make emotional connections with others is inevitably going to be different as well. Autistic people might actively avoid interaction with people they have a close connection to because they find it too hard to process the intense emotions that go with such relationships. They often make little or no eye contact and refuse to be hugged or kissed for the same reason, and naturally it can be very hard to feel loved by someone who doesn’t return your outward expressions of affection. However, with time, patience and a bit of creative thinking, it’s entirely possible to interact with autistic people in a way they can tolerate and once you do, you’ll find they’re wonderfully loving people to share your life with.

So why do people believe this myth?

Well, there’s no getting away from it, being in a close relationship with someone on the spectrum can be very, very hard work. Without the right level of support and encouragement, many people become disheartened by their apparent failure to connect with their own children or other family members and believe it’s impossible. An autistic person’s apparent lack of interest in the people around them, and insistence on doing things in a set pattern or routine can make them appear to be unreachable, but this is far from the truth. The mistake many people make is in trying to change the autistic person’s behaviour to fit in with their own expectations. Insisting on how the relationship ‘should’ work, rather than accepting the person as they are and engaging with them on their own terms, often leads to a total breakdown in communication, when a small change of perspective could have lead to a wonderfully fulfilling relationship instead – a diagnosis of autism means only one thing – you’re autistic; being able to enjoy loving relationships is something entirely different.


One of the main signs of an autism spectrum condition is difficulty processing social situations, as they’re filled with unwritten rules of etiquette which autistic people find almost impossible to understand. Social gatherings are usually held in unfamiliar environments too, filled with new sensory information which they also struggle to process, and this combination can quickly become overwhelming. Having difficulty expressing emotion and being unable to make ‘small talk’ makes fitting in and feeling comfortable very hard. Even on a one-to-one basis, when interacting with others, autistic people often miss both verbal and non-verbal clues as to whether the other person wishes to be friends, and despite being desperate to join in, and even being welcome to do so, unless they are specifically told ‘I want to be your friend’ they won’t understand what’s expected of them and will remain alone. Autistic people are often loners as a result of their difficulties, but inside they can be yearning for the connection and interaction with others that most people take for granted.

So why do people believe this myth?

Being able to make friends is such a basic human characteristic that when an autistic person appears to reject offers of friendship by not making eye contact or returning a friendly ‘hello’ people will naturally assume they’re rude or aloof and simply don’t want to be friends. Someone who avoids parties and other public events will again be considered anti-social, so it’s perfectly understandable for people to think this way about those on the spectrum. Autistic people are also well known for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time and very often manage to offend others entirely by accident, and again this can lead people to assume the autistic person doesn’t like them, when in fact the opposite is true – a diagnosis of autism means only one thing – you’re autistic; the desire to make friends is something entirely different.

If you need help looking for services for an individual with an autism spectrum condition, we can help. Click below for the Autism Placement Support Service.

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