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Autism Myths and Facts


Understanding some common myths may be helpful in understanding autism and sorting through the facts and myths we often hear in the media. This resource also includes a list of resources in the Philadelphia area.

The words "myths vs facts" in block letters outlined in a circle.Autism is a syndrome that affects children in three areas: language, socialization, and sensory integration. Each child is different. There is no known cause or cure for autism. Special therapies can help make a big difference in a child’s development and future. The sooner a child gets good therapies the better that child’s future will be.

If you are worried about your child’s development or behavior, it is better to have an evaluation and get help than to wait and see.

Click on the myths to uncover the real facts

Boys speak later than girls do.

Fact. Boys’ language is different from girls but they should communicate well by the age of 2.

Autism means my child has Mental Retardation.

Fact. Autism is not the same as Mental Retardation or what is now called Intellectual Disability.

My child does not have autism because he can read, talk and work the computer.

Fact. Children with autism have many skills but still need therapies to make sure they have successful relationships and behavior, as they grow older.

He or she is just a bad or spoiled child.

Fact. Children with autism are frequently misdiagnosed as having behavior problems. They may have problematic behaviors because they have autism and are not getting help.

We do not speak English in our home, so it will take my child longer to learn to speak and I should wait.

Fact. By the age of 2, a child should be speaking in at least one language.

My child was fine at birth.

Fact. This is both true and false. There are different times in childhood that autism can be identified. It varies among children.

He or she just has hyperactivity or ADHD.

Fact. Many children with autism appear to have difficulty focusing and paying attention. However, they also have problems with social skills, repetitive behaviors and communicating effectively. Children with ADHD do not necessarily have these other differences.

Something caused my child to have autism.

Fact. There are hundreds of myths about what might cause autism. Although there is a lot of research, there is still no scientifically proven cause.

There is a blood test or genetic test for autism.

Fact. There is no blood or genetic test for autism.

Resources to Get the Facts

Autism Society of America/Philadelphia 
Information and support warmline: 610-358-5256. Info in Spanish also


ASERT (Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training)
Region Eastern Collaborative Autism Resource Specialist: 877-231-4244. Spanish too.


Philadelphia Autism Project
Map of local support groups for autism in Philly.


Autism Speaks
Autism response hotline: 888-288-4762


Association for the Science of Autism Treatment
Describes autism treatment methods and the research and evidence behind them. Great vaccination info.


Philly Autism Group

Facebook page

SPIN-PACE Special People in the Northeast
Philadelphia Autism Centers of Excellence. Multi service center in Northeast Philadelphia providing a range of free and Medical Assistance-funded services and supports for the entire family. Free family support groups and trainings open to everyone. 216-612-7639 Spanish available.

Facebook page

NET-PACE NorthEast Treatment Centers
Philadelphia Autism Centers of Excellence. Multi services center in Center City providing a range of free and Medical Assistance -funded services and supports for the entire family. Free Family Support groups and trainings open to everyone.  877-638-4581 Spanish available.

Facebook page

Child Guidance Resource Center (CGRC)
Philadelphia Autism Center of Excellence. Multi service center in Southwest Philly providing a range of evidence based supports and services for families with a child with Autism. Free Family Support groups monthly open to everyone. 267-713-4113 Spanish available.


Community Autism Network (CAN)
A learning and social environment to build awareness in the community, promote independence, provide social opportunities and relief for families and individuals with Autism.  215-834-8998

Facebook page

Small World Special Needs
Videos, tip sheets, in 7 different languages as well as help for visual supports


Teaching Pyramid



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This resource created by Mimi Wong with the Philadelphia Autism Project