Autism Myth #2: My Kid is Too Smart to Have Autism

by | Last updated Jan 25, 2021

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Autism Myth #2: Too smart to have autism

Dear Community,  April is the month to honor people with autism and bring awareness to the challenges many families face.  This is our series on autism myths. Below is myth #2. Please read and share.  Oh, that kid is too smart to have autism. There is a misconception in the community. You may hear people say that those with autism cannot be intelligent. Kids with autism absolutely can be smart. On average, the IQ of those with autism is average. What am I talking about? The mean IQ score is 100 in the general population. What is the mean IQ score for people with autism? Right around 100. Yep. That’s right. Average.  That is not to say that there aren’t some differences. Many individuals with autism have a unique cognitive profile, where some skills are very strong and where there are other areas of extreme deficit. Some individuals with Autism have strengths in problem solving and non-verbal reasoning. Many individuals with autism have a slower processing speed.  These patterns can be somewhat common in ASD, a style of cognition that favors the non-verbal over the verbal and tends to work a little slower when processing information.  BUT, and this is a big but…let’s not disseminate another myth here. I have met lots of kids with autism who do NOT show that pattern at all. People on the Spectrum are all unique.  There are two things that really irk me about this myth. 
  • People with autism are all individual, different, and have their own set of amazing and special gifts. Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking one trait can define all people on the Spectrum. 
  • Those without experience diagnosing autism should avoid ‘ruling it out.’ That is, it can be extremely detrimental for well-meaning friends and colleagues to tell a parent ‘your child couldn’t have autism because of X, Y, Z.’ If a parent has a concern, be a good neighbor and suggest that he or she get more information from a psychologist or other diagnosing provider. 
The reason to not hastily rule out autism is that early detection and intervention can make a real difference for the child and family. If there are concerns, get them checked. If autism is the diagnosis, there are so many therapies and supports available, life can get better in a hurry. This is why families with concerns are well served to seek help now and not delay. We are here for you and your loved ones. With the right supports in place for families with autism, there are many reasons to have hope for a brighter tomorrow. Thank you,  Dr. Marcy Willard

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