Although over 700,000 people in the UK have autism (more than 1 in 100 people), false and often negative perceptions about the condition are commonplace.

This lack of understanding can make it difficult for people on the autism spectrum to have their condition recognised and to access the support they need. Misconceptions can lead to some people who have autism feeling isolated and alone. In extreme cases, it can also lead to abuse and bullying.

Twitter birdOn 1 November 2012, we launched a social media campaign to dispel common myths surrounding autism and Asperger syndrome, and to raise general awareness of the condition and of The National Autistic Society. A myth about autism was tweeted, closely followed by a corresponding fact, on each day in the run up to World Autism Awareness Day on 2 April 2013.

You can read more about the campaign and see all the myths and facts posted so far on our main Twitter account.

Myths and facts tweeted so far:

As of 11 March 2013
#AutismFact: The idea of an autism spectrum was first introduced by Lorna Wing and Judith Gould in 1979
#AutismFact: Some people with autism may develop fascinations or special interests
#AutismMyth: All people with autism are good at maths, art and music #worldmathsday
#AutismFact: People w/ autism will often learn a lot about a topic they're fascinated with & be perceived as experts
#AutismFact: Fascinations, repetitive behaviour & routines can be a source of enjoyment for people autism
#AutismFact: Special interests may provide structure & predictability to people w/ autism, helping them cope with uncertainties of daily life
#AutismFact: People w/ autism who find social interaction difficult may use their special interests to start conversations & feel relaxed
#AutismFact: Mothers across the world dedicate their lives to supporting and caring for loved ones with autism #Mothersday
#AutismFact: Special interests of people with autism can improve self-esteem, encourage socialising & develop skills

As of 4 March 2013
#AutismFact: The Autism Helpline provides confidential info, advice & support for people w/ autism, families & carers
#AutismFact: The Society for Autistic Children was renamed The National Autistic Society in 1982
#AutismMyth: After being supported through school, people with autism instantly adapt to adult life
#AutismFact: Many young people with autism find it difficult to imagine life beyond school & what being in a workplace will involve
#AutismFact: Big changes, such as transition from children's to adult services, can be traumatic for people w/ autism
#AutismMyth: People with autism no longer require support once they leave school
#AutismFact: Planning & support are vital to ensure transition is as smooth as possible for people with autism
#AutismFact: Difficulties with transition can lead to social isolation, mental health problems & continued dependence on parents
#AutismFact: Parents of young people with autism have described transition to adulthood like falling off a cliff-edge
as of 25 February 2013

#AutismFact: 66% of people with autism in Scotland feel they do not have enough support, according to a 2013 survey
#AutismFact: In 1944 Austrian paediatrician Hans Asperger first described the condition later known as Asperger syndrome
#AutismFact: 79% of people with autism in Scotland believe public understanding of the condition is poor or very poor
#AutismFact: The first question about autism in @UKParliament was asked by William Compton Carr in 1962
#AutismMyth: All people with autism are geniuses or have a extraordinary ability like the Dustin Hoffman character in the film Rainman
#AutismFact: Current thinking holds that at most 1 or 2 in 200 individuals with autism may have an extraordinary talent
#AutismFact: People with autism who have an extraordinary talent are referred to as 'autistic savants'

#AutismFact: The Autism Helpline was launched in 1997 to answer calls and enquiries for people with the condition


as of 18 February 2013

#AutismFact: 78% of young people with autism think people outside their family don’t know enough about the condition
#AutismFact: Leo Kanner first described autism as a distinct condition in 1943
#AutismMyth: All people with autism can’t start & sustain friendships or relationships #ValentinesDay
#AutismFact: Autism affects a person's ability to communicate & can make forming relationships difficult  #ValentinesDay
#AutismFact: Some people with autism have successful and happy relationships and marriages  #ValentinesDay
#AutismFact: 22% of young people with autism responding to a 2012 survey said they had no friends at all
#AutismMyth: All adults with autism prefer their own company and don’t want any friends
#AutismFact: 65% of people with autism surveyed in 2012 said they would like more friends
#AutismFact: The NAS run befriending schemes, pairing people with autism with volunteers to socialise together
#AutismFact: Befriending schemes can help people with autism develop self-confidence & improve understanding of others


as of 11 February 2013

#AutismFact: Many parents of children with PDA feel they’ve been wrongly accused of poor parenting
#AutismFact: People with PDA will avoid demands made by others due to high anxiety levels when they feel they are not in control
#AutismMyth: People with autism don’t feel emotions
#AutismFact: Many people with autism feel emotions intensely & can be overwhelmed by the emotions of those around them
#AutismFact: Autism is a hidden condition; a diagnosis does not involve a physical examination
#AutismFact: People that don't agree with an autism diagnosis can seek a second opinion
#AutismFact: The term 'autism' was coined by Eugen Bleuler in 1911 to describe what he perceived as social withdrawal
#AutismFact: Most adults with autism are diagnosed by a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist


as of 4 February 2013

AutismFact: The EarlyBird programme supports parents to better understand autism & how the condition affects their child

#AutismFact: 34% of people with autism said they waited three years or more for a diagnosis, according to a 2012 survey
#AutismFact: 55% of people seeking an autism diagnosis said the process took too long, according to a 2012 survey
#AutismMyth: You can only be diagnosed with autism as a child
#AutismFact: Autism affects adults as well as children. People with the condition can be diagnosed at any age
#AutismFact: Pathological demand avoidance syndrome (PDA) is being researched for its similarities with autism & (>>1/2)
(>>2/2) #AutismFact: more research is needed to clarify the differences and similarities between autism and PDA
#AutismFact: The Lorna Wing Centre was the first UK service to provide diagnostic, assessment & advice for people with autism
#AutismFact: The Lorna Wing Centre now gives diagnostic training to professionals in the UK & diagnoses complex cases


as of 28 January 2013

#AutismMyth: All people with autism require constant care
#AutismFact: Autism is a spectrum condition - (>>1/2)
(>>2/2) #AutismFact: While many people with autism face similar challenges, it can affect them differently & require different support needs
#AutismFact: A diagnosis can help people with autism explain why they feel ‘different’ or help a parent understand their child better
#AutismFact: Diagnosis can offer a gateway to identifying and accessing appropriate support and services
#AutismFact: Some people live with autism for their entire lives without ever getting a formal diagnosis
#AutismMyth: Autism only affects males
#AutismFact: Autism affects males and females, though statistics indicate that more males are affected
#AutismFact: NAS research from 2012 indicates that it may be harder for females than males to get a diagnosis for autism
#AutismFact: The process of diagnosing autism can vary depending on location and the diagnosticians/diagnostic services but (>>1/2)
(>>2/2) #AutismFact: Autism diagnoses in the UK should now follow guidelines issued by NICE


as of 21 January 2013

#AutismFact: According to a 2012 survey, 27% of children with autism have been excluded from school (>>1/2)
(>>2/2) #AutismFact: compared with 4% of children without autism who have been excluded from school
#AutismFact: School exclusions of children and young people with autism are generally avoidable with the right support
#AutismFact: The Education Rights Service offers info & support to help guide parents through the education system
#AutismFact: 63% of young people with autism have been bullied at school, according to a 2012 survey
#AutismFact: Information, advice & support about bullying are available to parents, teachers & people with autism:
#AutismFact: 75% of people with autism at secondary school age have experienced bullying, according to a 2012 survey
#AutismFact: Education Support Service offers advice & support to professionals working with young people with autism
#AutismFact: Before the 1960s people w/ autism were generally considered uneducable & excluded from the education system


as of 14 January 2013

#AutismMyth: All children with autism go to special educational needs schools
#AutismFact: Most children with autism go to mainstream school while others require support at special schools
#AutismFact: The NAS will be opening a free school in Reading in September 2013
#AutismFact: NAS Schools offer balanced & relevant curricula, incorporating the National Curriculum where appropriate
#AutismMyth: Stimming (repetitive behaviour like flapping or rocking) is undesirable and should be stopped
#AutismFact: Repetitive behaviour like flapping or rocking can help some people with autism deal with chaotic environments or stress
#AutismFact: Stimming can be a healthy method of personal expression & sometimes communication for people with autism
#AutismFact: There are an estimated 106,000 school-aged children with autism in the UK
#AutismFact: The Autism Education Trust helps education providers plan & develop autism education strategies


as of 7 January 2013

#AutismFact: Autism is a ‘hidden’ condition – you can’t always tell if someone has it
#AutismFact: Jane Asher is the President of the NAS
#AutismFact: The NAS has 16 Vice Presidents incl the Speaker John Bercow MP, Sally Bercow & Professor Simon Baron-Cohen
#AutismMyth: A child with autism will grow out of the condition
#AutismFact: The right support at the right time can enhance a child with autism’s opportunities
#AutismMyth: A person with autism cannot be educated
#AutismFact: With the right structured support both in and out of school, people with autism can reach their full potential
#AutismFact: The NAS runs 7 autism-specialist schools around the UK (ages 4-25), with another set to open this year
#AutismFact: Over 500 children & young people are supported by NAS Schools, which provide them with tailored education


as of 31 December 2012
#AutismMyth: All people with autism experience #Christmas in the same way as 'neurotypical' people
#AutismFact: #Christmas is an exciting time but changes can be confusing/distressing for people with autism

AutismFact: People with autism’s dependence on routines can increase during times of change, stress or illness 
#AutismMyth: Only children have autism
#AutismFact: Autism is a lifelong developmental condition - children with autism become adults with autism
#AutismFact: Autism is not a degenerative condition
#AutismFact: People with autism are most likely to fulfil their potential with specialised support & a knowledgeable, understanding public
#AutismFact: The NAS was set up in 1962 by friends from N.London seeking more understanding & help for children with autism & their families
#AutismFact: The NAS celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012 


as of 24 December 2012

#AutismFact: #Christmas #presents for children with autism could include sensory toys, board games or music
#AutismFact: Routines can provide structure & predictability to people with autism, helping them manage anxiety
#AutismFact: The need for routine in some people with autism can make new environments/people difficult to deal with
#AutismFact: There's various ways families & friends of people with autism can help them cope with changes at #Xmas:
#AutismFact: Ensuring a child with autism knows what to expect at #Xmas may help them cope with changes to their routine
#AutismFact: Using daily timetables can help people with autism know what to expect & when
#AutismFact: Children with autism can find abstract concepts, like Father #Christmas challenging (a stranger coming down your chimney)

as of 17 December 2012

#AutismFact: Many people with autism have difficulty interpreting non-literal sayings or phrases
#AutismFact: Many people with autism find it difficult to understand facial expressions, tone of voice, jokes and sarcasm
#AutismFact Many people with autism find it easier to understand others if they're spoken to in a clear, consistent way 
#AutismFact: Many people with autism find it useful when people give them time to process what has been said to them 
#AutismFact: Visual supports should be appropriate to the person with autism and in line with their stage of development 
#AutismMyth: All children with autism love #Christmas
#AutismFact: Seemingly small changes such as birthdays or #Christmas can disrupt the routine of someone with autism, increasing anxiety
#AutismFact: Some #Christmas presents can be unsuitable for children with #autism


as of 10 December 2012

#AutismFact: Some people with autism may not speak, or have fairly limited speech
#AutismMyth: Non-verbal people with autism are severely mentally impaired
#AutismFact: Some people with autism may have an associated learning difficulty while others can have average/above average intelligence
#AutismFact: Non-verbal people with autism can often understand what other people say to them

#AutismFact: Non-verbal people with autism prefer other means of communication - e.g. sign language or visual symbols

#AutismFact: Visual supports may help people with autism in many ways, including during times of change/new routines

#AutismFact: Visual supports can include objects, photos and line drawings

#AutismFact: Many people with autism have a very literal understanding of language #PlainEnglishDay


as of 3 December 2012

#AutismMyth: Asperger syndrome is a middle class condition made up by parents to excuse the bad behaviour of their children
#AutismFact: Asperger syndrome is a real and disabling condition that has its own set of diagnostic criteria
#AutismFact: Asperger syndrome is a lifelong disability affecting how a person makes sense of the world as well as how they process information & relate to other people
#AutismFact: People with Asperger syndrome may have difficulty understanding and processing language
#AutismMyth: All people with autism spectrum disorders have a low IQ
#AutismFact: Not all people with autism have a learning disability
#AutismFact: People with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism, often have average or above intelligence
#AutismFact: Asperger is a German name and should be pronounced with a hard 'G' as there is no soft 'G' in the German language
#AutismMyth: ADHD and autism are the same condition
#AutismFact: Although some children with autism are also diagnosed with ADHD, they are two separate conditions
#AutismFact: Many children with autism display ADHD symptoms but the similarities disappear with age


as of 26 November 2012

#AutismMyth: All people with autism are incapable of working
#AutismFact: Prospects is an employment and training service run by the NAS, helping people with autism into work
#AutismFact: Prospects works to ensure that people with autism have the same training and job opportunities as people without a disability
#AutismFact: Prospects helps jobseekers and graduates with autism build skills, prepare for interviews, find and retain jobs

#AutismFact: Prospects supports employers with the recruitment, training and retention of staff with autism
#AutismFact: Over a three year period, 70% of adults with autism supported by Prospects found employment

#AutismFact: 59% of adults with autism responding to a 2012 NAS survey said they find it hard to make friends >>(1/2)
#AutismFact: >>(2/2) and only 3% of people with autism surveyed said they find it easy to make friends #worldhelloday
#AutismMyth: All children and adults with autism prefer to spend their time alone #worldhelloday
#AutismFact: People with autism may want to interact socially but may not naturally have the necessary social skills
#AutismFact: People with autism experience difficulty in three main areas: social interaction, communication and imagination
#AutismFact: People with autism can find it difficult to recognise emotions in themselves and express these to others
#AutismFact: People with autism struggle to use and understand verbal and non-verbal language such as gestures
#AutismFact: People with autism find it difficult to understand and predict other people’s behaviour
#AutismMyth: Children and adults with autism do not care about other people
#AutismFact: People with autism can care deeply about others but may find it difficult to understand how others feel


as of 19 November 2012

#AutismMyth: Autism is a rare condition which is only diagnosed in a small number of people
#AutismFact: There are over 500,000 people with autism in the UK (around 1 in 100)

#AutismFact: Including families, autism touches the lives of over two million people every day

#AutismMyth: Autism is a new condition
#AutismFact: The first detailed description of a child known to have had autism was written in 1799 by Jean Itard

#AutismMyth: Autism is caused by poor parenting or parenting behaviour
#AutismFact: The multiple causes of autism are still unknown with research ongoing but it is known that autism is not caused by poor parenting or parental behaviour

#AutismMyth: People with autism are deliberately being rude when avoiding eye contact
#AutismFact: Lack of eye contact doesn't necessarily mean someone is being rude; they could have autism
#AutismFact: Some people with autism find it difficult/physically painful to make eye contact

#AutismMyth: Autism is the result of emotional deprivation or emotional stress 
#AutismFact: Autism is a lifelong disability. Many people with the condition are susceptible to anxiety disorders

#AutismMyth: Autism is a mental health condition 
#AutismFact: Autism is a lifelong neuro-developmental condition which exists along a spectrum

#AutismMyth: If a person has autism, they will not have any other condition
#AutismFact: Autism can co-exist with other conditions including ADHD, Down’s syndrome, epilepsy and learning difficulties

#AutismFact: Academic research indicates that 71% of children with autism also have a mental health problem

#AutismFact: According to a 2008 survey, just 15% of adults with autism are in full-time paid employment

#AutismMyth: People with autism will never achieve anything
#AutismFact: Some of the world’s most creative people are suspected to have had autism, including Mozart & Newton

#AutismFact: People with autism can lead fulfilling lives with the right understanding and support

#AutismFact: People with autism may demonstrate above average levels of concentration, reliability and accuracy