World Autism Awareness Day: Debunking common misconceptions about autism spectrum disorder

File picture: Pexels

File picture: Pexels

Published Apr 2, 2023


Despite efforts to draw awareness, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is still very much stigmatised.

Today, the global community observes World Autism Awareness Day in a bid to not only bring awareness about autism but to celebrate people who have the disorder.

We list common misconceptions, facts as well as symptoms to look out for.

Misconception: People with autism are violent.

Fact: This is not true. While they may have difficulty expressing themselves, to say they are intentionally violent and more likely to cause harm is one of the most damaging and problematic misconceptions.

Misconception: Autism is a disease and should be cured.

Fact: The Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurological condition that affects communication and behaviour and a complex group of neurodevelopmental disabilities. There is no cure, but there are steps that can be taken to reduce symptoms.

Misconception: Autistic people are intellectually challenged.

Fact: Individuals with ASD have varying abilities and functions. This is why its considered a spectrum. They have different strengths and abilities. Some might have intellectual disabilities or speech difficulties, but there are others that do not.


While autism does not affect everyone the same way, it is helpful to look out for these symptoms that may include, but are not limited to:

-Poor eye contact and lacking facial expression

-Not speaking or delayed speech

-Preferring to playing alone or retreating into their own world

-Repeating words or phrases but not understanding how to use them.

In a statement released on Sunday, spokesperson to Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez, Monique Mortlock-Malgas said the Western Cape Department of Social Development has allocated R61 million in 2023/2024 to 62 Social Service Organisations (SSOs) that provide support to people and children with disabilities, and their families.

The Department also subsidises Special Care Centres for Children with Disabilities.

“There is still a significant cloud of stigma around Autism Spectrum Disorder, with many people still not fully understanding what it means, or even how it may present in an individual. I urge parents to be aware of signs that their child may be on the spectrum, as there are non-invasive interventions that can be implemented from an early age. This can provide children with the necessary tools to become fully integrated members of society when they are older,” said Fernandez.