Autism affects over 700,000 people in the UK (more than 1 in 100). But for all the lives touched by autism there are still a lot of persistent myths about what the lifelong and disabling condition actually is, and what living with it is really like.

Misconceptions such as autism only affecting children or that all people with the condition are geniuses can have a damaging effect on the lives of people living with autism, making it more difficult to have their condition recognised and to access the support they need.

On 1 November 2012, we launched a social media campaign to dispel common myths surrounding autism, and to raise general awareness of the condition and of The National Autistic Society. We've tweeted a myth and/or corresponding fact about autism each day in the run up to World Autism Awareness Day.

To celebrate its culmination, the NAS will be handing over the myths and facts campaign to another autism charity: the SYNAPSIS Foundation, the Polish public benefit organisation. They will be running the campaign during World Autism Awareness Month which lasts throughout April. You can follow SYNAPSIS on Twitter or on Facebook.

Watch the video below to find out more about autism from some of the people who work for the NAS.

 

We also hit the streets of London to test the public's knowledge of autism. You can watch videos of members of the public taking the fact or myth quiz below.

 

 

 

Myths and facts tweeted so far:

Twitter birdAs of 2 April 2013

#AutismMyth: No-one cares about people with autism
#AutismFact: Today is World Autism Awareness Day, which marks the international effort to raise awareness of the condition
#AutismFact: People across the world dedicate their lives to caring & supporting loved ones with autism to live the lives they deserve

As of 27 March 2013

#AutismFact: 28% of adults with autism surveyed in 2012 still lived at home with their parents bit.ly/T1Tk2e

#AutismMyth: All adults with autism receive the support they need
#AutismFact: Many of the families affected by autism in the UK do not get the level of help, support & understanding they need

#AutismFact: 61% of adults surveyed in 2012 said their local authority had never assessed their needs as an adult bit.ly/T1Tk2e

#AutismMyth: Autism is something you can turn on and off when it suits
#AutismFact: Having autism is like having blue eyes or dark hair – it's part of you. It is a lifelong condition bit.ly/UUn65Z

#AutismFact: 43% of young people with autism surveyed in 2011 felt teachers didn't know enough about the condition bit.ly/X3a6lI

#AutismFact: 68% of parents surveyed in 2011 said it hasn’t been easy to get the edu support their child needs bit.ly/X3a6lI

#AutismMyth: All children with autism get a statement of special educational needs automatically
#AutismFact: SEN statements are based on need rather than diagnosis

#AutismFact: Far too many children with autism do not get the education they need and deserve bit.ly/X3a6lI

#AutismFact: 18% of parents surveyed in 2011 had to go to a tribunal to get the right support for their children bit.ly/X3a6lI

#AutismFact: The NAS' Sybil Elgar School became the first autism-specific school in the UK when it opened in 1965 bit.ly/VFRcuF

#AutismMyth: All police forces are aware of the challenges faced by people with autism and can adapt their approach accordingly
#AutismFact: Autism training is not routinely provided as part of police training in the UK

#AutismFact: Police awareness of autism can help them understand the needs of this section of society & act accordingly bit.ly/XXJxMp

#AutismMyth: People with autism don't understand humour
#AutismFact: People with autism can understand humour & make jokes but an often literal understanding of the world can lead to confusions

#AutismMyth: Autism isn’t recognised internationally
#AutismFact: The UN declared 2 April as World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) in 2008 bit.ly/UaaKcI

#AutismFact: WAAD highlights the need to help improve the lives of children and adults with autism so they can lead full & meaningful lives

#AutismFact: Somerset Court became the first specialist centre for people with autism in the UK when it opened in 1974 bit.ly/13L1KAY

#AutismFact: The Autism Research Centre was founded in 1999, bringing together scientists from @Cambridge_Uni bit.ly/Z5DRhz

#AutismFact: To mark #WAAD, we're handing over the #AutismMyth & #AutismFact campaign to SYNAPSIS, a Polish autism charity @fsynapsis

#AutismFact: SYNAPSIS Foundation has been helping people with autism & their families in Poland since 1989 bit.ly/16Y537A @fsynapsis

#AutismMyth: A person with autism can never learn new skills
#AutismFact: With the right help and support a person with autism can make progress and reach their potential bit.ly/X3gMjN

#AutismFact: The Autism Act 2009 was the first disability-specific law in England & led to the Adult Autism Strategy bit.ly/Yh5Atq

#AutismFact: The Government first published a strategy for adults with autism on 3 March 2010  bit.ly/ZmsGTM

#AutismFact: The adult autism strategy is the #Government plan to ensure that adults w/ autism get the help they need bit.ly/Yh5Atq

#AutismMyth: You can tell someone has autism by looking at them
#AutismFact: Autism is a hidden disability bit.ly/UUn65Z

As of 11 March 2013
 
#AutismFact: The idea of an autism spectrum was first introduced by Lorna Wing and Judith Gould in 1979 bit.ly/Y69kjn
 
#AutismFact: Some people with autism may develop fascinations or special interests bit.ly/VSs8iW
 
#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 bit.ly/VSs8iW
 
#AutismFact: Fascinations, repetitive behaviour & routines can be a source of enjoyment for people autism bit.ly/VSs8iW
 
#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 bit.ly/VSs8iW

 
As of 4 March 2013
 
#AutismFact: The Autism Helpline provides confidential info, advice & support for people w/ autism, families & carers bit.ly/TkFVTK
 
#AutismFact: The Society for Autistic Children was renamed The National Autistic Society in 1982 bit.ly/Y69kjn
 
#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 bit.ly/ZoWQbm
 
#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 bit.ly/Y6yYEv
 
#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 bit.ly/VVgg2u
 
#AutismFact: In 1944 Austrian paediatrician Hans Asperger first described the condition later known as Asperger syndrome bit.ly/TzM6ne
 
#AutismFact: 79% of people with autism in Scotland believe public understanding of the condition is poor or very poor bit.ly/VVgg2u
 
#AutismFact: The first question about autism in @UKParliament was asked by William Compton Carr in 1962 www.bit.ly/VFRcuF
 
#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 www.bit.ly/Rqz4pP
 
#AutismFact: People with autism who have an extraordinary talent are referred to as 'autistic savants' bit.ly/Rqz4pP

#AutismFact: The Autism Helpline was launched in 1997 to answer calls and enquiries for people with the condition bit.ly/Y69kjn

 

as of 18 February 2013

#AutismFact: 78% of young people with autism think people outside their family don’t know enough about the condition http://bit.ly/T1Tk2e
 
#AutismFact: Leo Kanner first described autism as a distinct condition in 1943 http://bit.ly/WM5hqS
 
#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 http://bit.ly/UUn65Z  #ValentinesDay
#AutismFact: Some people with autism have successful and happy relationships and marriages http://bit.ly/UUn65Z  #ValentinesDay
 
#AutismFact: 22% of young people with autism responding to a 2012 survey said they had no friends at all http://bit.ly/T1Tk2e
 
#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 http://bit.ly/T1Tk2e
 
#AutismFact: The NAS runs befriending schemes, pairing people with autism with volunteers to socialise together http://bit.ly/UnHB0J
 
#AutismFact: Befriending schemes can help people with autism develop self-confidence & improve understanding of others http://bit.ly/UnHB0J

 

as of 11 February 2013

#AutismFact: Many parents of children with PDA feel they’ve been wrongly accused of poor parenting bit.ly/XedDXL
 
#AutismFact: People with PDA will avoid demands made by others due to high anxiety levels when they feel they are not in control bit.ly/XedDXL
 
#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 bit.ly/Y5pPL2
 
#AutismFact: People that don't agree with an autism diagnosis can seek a second opinion bit.ly/Y5pPL2
 
#AutismFact: The term 'autism' was coined by Eugen Bleuler in 1911 to describe what he perceived as social withdrawal bit.ly/WM5hqS
 
#AutismFact: Most adults with autism are diagnosed by a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist bit.ly/Y5pPL2

 

as of 4 February 2013

AutismFact: The EarlyBird programme supports parents to better understand autism & how the condition affects their child bit.ly/10zlzKV

#AutismFact: 34% of people with autism said they waited three years or more for a diagnosis, according to a 2012 survey bit.ly/T1Tk2e
 
#AutismFact: 55% of people seeking an autism diagnosis said the process took too long, according to a 2012 survey bit.ly/T1Tk2e
 
#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 bit.ly/U17aSr
 
#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 bit.ly/XedDXL
 
#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 bit.ly/W77xbQ

 

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 http://bit.ly/U17aSr
 
#AutismFact: Some people live with autism for their entire lives without ever getting a formal diagnosis http://bit.ly/U17aSr
 
#AutismMyth: Autism only affects males
#AutismFact: Autism affects males and females, though statistics indicate that more males are affected http://bit.ly/10bYxIY
 
#AutismFact: NAS research from 2012 indicates that it may be harder for females than males to get a diagnosis for autism http://bit.ly/T1Tk2e
 
#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 http://bit.ly/VlCH1J

 

as of 21 January 2013

#AutismFact: According to a 2012 survey, 27% of children with autism have been excluded from school (>>1/2) http://bit.ly/T1Tk2e
(>>2/2) #AutismFact: compared with 4% of children without autism who have been excluded from school http://bit.ly/T1Tk2e
 
#AutismFact: School exclusions of children and young people with autism are generally avoidable with the right support  http://bit.ly/X64O49
 
#AutismFact: The Education Rights Service offers info & support to help guide parents through the education system www.bit.ly/ZkcVhF
 
#AutismFact: 63% of young people with autism have been bullied at school, according to a 2012 survey http://bit.ly/T1Tk2e
 
#AutismFact: Information, advice & support about bullying are available to parents, teachers & people with autism: http://bit.ly/TB3JSc
 
#AutismFact: 75% of people with autism at secondary school age have experienced bullying, according to a 2012 survey http://bit.ly/T1Tk2e
 
#AutismFact: Education Support Service offers advice & support to professionals working with young people with autism http://bit.ly/X5VIV6
 
#AutismFact: Before the 1960s people w/ autism were generally considered uneducable & excluded from the education system http://bit.ly/T1Tk2e

 

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 http://bit.ly/WihjHm
 
#AutismFact: The NAS will be opening a free school in Reading in September 2013 http://bit.ly/Wnqcik
 
#AutismFact: NAS Schools offer balanced & relevant curricula, incorporating the National Curriculum where appropriate http://bit.ly/UnoROA
 
#AutismMyth: Stimming (repetitive behaviour like flapping or rocking) is undesirable and should be stopped http://bit.ly/1384F3y
#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 http://bit.ly/VSs8iW
 
#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 http://bit.ly/VCIOfZ

 

as of 7 January 2013

#AutismFact: Autism is a ‘hidden’ condition – you can’t always tell if someone has it http://bit.ly/SlujOL
 
#AutismFact: Jane Asher is the President of the NAS http://bit.ly/12rtQ1s
 
#AutismFact: The NAS has 16 Vice Presidents incl the Speaker John Bercow MP, Sally Bercow & Professor Simon Baron-Cohen http://bit.ly/TCinqZ
 
#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 www.bit.ly/SvjElE
 
#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 http://bit.ly/UMffLD
 
#AutismFact: The NAS runs 7 autism-specialist schools around the UK (ages 4-25), with another set to open this year http://bit.ly/VmISAK
 
#AutismFact: Over 500 children & young people are supported by NAS Schools, which provide them with tailored education http://bit.ly/VmISAK

 

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 http://bit.ly/UtN94o

AutismFact: People with autism’s dependence on routines can increase during times of change, stress or illness http://bit.ly/VSs8iW 
 
#AutismMyth: Only children have autism
#AutismFact: Autism is a lifelong developmental condition - children with autism become adults with autism http://bit.ly/Sk9kvk
 
#AutismFact: Autism is not a degenerative condition http://bit.ly/UUn65Z
 
#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 http://bit.ly/T9GA7Z 

 

as of 24 December 2012

#AutismFact: #Christmas #presents for children with autism could include sensory toys, board games or music http://bit.ly/UtN94o
 
#AutismFact: Routines can provide structure & predictability to people with autism, helping them manage anxiety http://bit.ly/VSs8iW
 
#AutismFact: The need for routine in some people with autism can make new environments/people difficult to deal with http://bit.ly/VSs8iW
 
#AutismFact: There's various ways families & friends of people with autism can help them cope with changes at #Xmas: http://bit.ly/UtN94o
 
#AutismFact: Ensuring a child with autism knows what to expect at #Xmas may help them cope with changes to their routine http://bit.ly/UtN94o
 
#AutismFact: Using daily timetables can help people with autism know what to expect & when http://bit.ly/VSs8iW
 
#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 http://bit.ly/T1grb9
 
#AutismFact: Many people with autism find it difficult to understand facial expressions, tone of voice, jokes and sarcasm http://bit.ly/QS7Wgu
 
#AutismFact Many people with autism find it easier to understand others if they're spoken to in a clear, consistent way http://www.bit.ly/QS7Wgu 
 
#AutismFact: Many people with autism find it useful when people give them time to process what has been said to them http://bit.ly/QS7Wgu 
 
#AutismFact: Visual supports should be appropriate to the person with autism and in line with their stage of development http://www.bit.ly/UNGDqb 
 
#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 http://www.autism.org.uk/living-with-autism/at-home/coping-with-christmas/christmas-and-autism-spectrum-disorders.aspx

 

as of 10 December 2012

#AutismFact: Some people with autism may not speak, or have fairly limited speech http://bit.ly/QS7Wgu
 
#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 http://bit.ly/QS7Wgu

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

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

#AutismFact: Visual supports can include objects, photos and line drawings http://bit.ly/UNGDqb

#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  http://bit.ly/Sdnexq
 
#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 http://bit.ly/Sdnexq
 
#AutismFact: People with Asperger syndrome may have difficulty understanding and processing language http://bit.ly/Sdnexq
 
#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 http://bit.ly/Sdnexq
 
#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 http://bit.ly/WrR8i2
 
#AutismFact: Many children with autism display ADHD symptoms but the similarities disappear with age http://bit.ly/WrR8i2

 

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 www.bit.ly/Sj4iw7
 
#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 www.bit.ly/Sj4iw7

#AutismFact: Prospects supports employers with the recruitment, training and retention of staff with autism www.bit.ly/TzxKQg
 
#AutismFact: Over a three year period, 70% of adults with autism supported by Prospects found employment www.bit.ly/T1Tk2e

#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 www.bit.ly/Sj6bYf #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 www.bit.ly/Sj6bYf
 
#AutismFact: People with autism experience difficulty in three main areas: social interaction, communication and imagination www.bit.ly/dlY0Dn
 
#AutismFact: People with autism can find it difficult to recognise emotions in themselves and express these to others www.bit.ly/dlY0Dn
 
#AutismFact: People with autism struggle to use and understand verbal and non-verbal language such as gestures www.bit.ly/dlY0Dn
 
#AutismFact: People with autism find it difficult to understand and predict other people’s behaviour www.bit.ly/dlY0Dn
 
#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 www.bit.ly/dlY0Dn

 

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) www.bit.ly/hpbNPQ

[These tweets cite prevalence figures at the time; these figures have since increased to reflect the growth in the UK population identified in the 2010 census]

#AutismFact: Including families, autism touches the lives of over two million people every day www.bit.ly/hpbNPQ

#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 http://bit.ly/Rqz4pP

#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 www.bit.ly/PVCkHj

#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 http://bit.ly/RvzJVl
#AutismFact: Some people with autism find it difficult/physically painful to make eye contact http://bit.ly/RvzJVl

#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 www.bit.ly/TTNeg7

#AutismMyth: Autism is a mental health condition 
#AutismFact: Autism is a lifelong neuro-developmental condition which exists along a spectrum http://bit.ly/Tss8cv

#AutismMyth: If a person has autism, they will not have any other condition www.bit.ly/Rqz4pP
#AutismFact: Autism can co-exist with other conditions including ADHD, Down’s syndrome, epilepsy and learning difficulties www.bit.ly/Pk6YsU

#AutismFact: Academic research indicates that 71% of children with autism also have a mental health problem http://bit.ly/PEzVVj

#AutismFact: According to a 2008 survey, just 15% of adults with autism are in full-time paid employment www.bit.ly/Ts2Ri

#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 www.bit.ly/TSaniT

#AutismFact: People with autism can lead fulfilling lives with the right understanding and support www.bit.ly/WXLj0u

#AutismFact: People with autism may demonstrate above average levels of concentration, reliability and accuracy http://bit.ly/Rr2JiJ