Autism is a spectrum, true to the word in every aspect.
The most common misconception I've experienced with having a child with Autism is that for the most part people think Autism is simple-black and white. People tend to think that a person is either nonverbal, unaware, and feel bad for you. Or on the flipside your child has savant syndrome (some sort of amazing skill or ability), is verbal, and struggles minimally. Neither of these misconceptions really do justice in explaining Autism. For one, savant syndrome is rare. And secondly, under-minding a person's abilities or struggles because they appear 'normal' is wrong. Thinking someone is unintelligent because they're non-verbal, couldn't be more further from the truth. People tend to think of the spectrum as two extremes and forget the in between. The in-between is where a majority of people on the spectrum fall.
People fail to realize Autism itself impairs people for the most part in ways that cannot be seen on the outside.
This is because it is a neurological disorder. This means is you don't see how the environment around a person is affecting them- you just see their reaction. It may be hard to understand why someone is having such an extreme response. Over stimulation can happen with any of the five sense. Hearing certain pitches and tones may be painful, certain textures may feel sharp or feel uncomfortable.
Sometimes people forget that the spectrum also consists of hypo-senstive individuals.
These individuals are under responsive or slow to respond to certian stimuli. For example, Olive is pretty much indestructible. She's under responsive to pain and touch, and craves compression. She is a “sensory seeker”. She purposely bumps into things, and loves to push up against things- especially people. She has non stop energy. She never stops moving, climbs anything she can, and loves ‘going upside down’. When Olive doesn’t get the stimulation she craves is effects her ability to pay attention or get through a task. To help manage this we make sure she as a balanced sensory diet- a variety of actives to fill her sensory needs, time to decompress to avoid her becoming overwhelmed, and follow a regular routine. A combination of these things help her function to her highest potential.
While hypo-sensitive in some ways she also has sensitivities. She can't stand certain textures, and has sensitive hearing. This effects what she eats and the clothes she wears. She has trouble clearing her mouth after a meal, and swallowing certain textures of food. When younger she would store food in her mouth for HOURS, or chew up her food and spit it out on her plate EVERYDAY. She had a very limited diet because of this. Jeans are non existent, because they hurt. Olive loves being in the water but becomes overwhelmed when entering a car wet from the rain, or immediately panics when her shirt gets wet and instantly removes it, or get upset when getting out of the bath. She hates the feeling of moisture unless she’s full submerged in it. Because of Olive’s sensitive hearing she'll sometimes start yelling to compensate for loud noise she hears and hold her ears to block out the noise. This is usually from an unexpected noise or high pitch sound. AUTISM SO COMPLEX. Which brings me to this, please understand the annoyance in unsolicited advice.
There is a reason they say, "If you've met one person with Autism, then you've met one person with Autism.", no two people are a like and this goes double for people with Autism.
It's so important for people to understand just how complex Autism is. This is the only way to begin inclusion, acceptance, and most of all understanding. Educating yourself will not only give you a better understanding, but also equip you with the knowledge to spot Autism early. If your child or someone you know exhibits two or more behaviors, look into it. Thinking someone is too smart to have Autism (yes, people really think this.), or makes eye contact, or seems social shouldn't be what dismisses your concerns.
Autism is part of a person, but it doesn't define them.
Someone can be verbal, seemingly normal, and out and about with no problem, and STILL have Autism. You will be amazed at what people one the spectrum can do, experience, and feel. People with Autism are smart, able, worthy individuals. All you have to do is open your eyes to see it.