Stereotypes, unfortunately, are a major part of our society. Whether based on race, gender or worse disability they are prevalent in all areas of society. Worse yet is the fact that even those who are meant to be support structures to those with autism often fall for the Australian stereotypes for a lack of education or understanding. Stereotyping can have a very negative effect on an autistic child as their world already has enough confusion and frustration without the hatred, embarrassment and painful situations that may arise as a result of stereotypes.
It is vital to remember that as any disorder or disability not all people with autism are the same. There are different levels of autism, not to mention different symptoms. Being that it is a spectrum disorder you will as the name suggests finding affected individuals that fit all ends of the spectrum and everything in between. It is a very complex disorder, where an autistic child may be high functioning and barely show any symptoms to a low functioning child who may need constant care in order to live and sustain daily life.
Because everyone is different stereotypes should be avoided. In the case of disabilities and autism, it can be very detrimental to a person’s well-being to be stereotyped as they are already dealing with enough issues in their daily life that they do not need the negative perceptions of the outside world making it that much worse. Autistic people are still just that, people and like every person on the planet, they are unique and individual, each with their own personalities and likes and dislikes. View them for who they are and not who you expect them to be.
But a quick analysis of their history, origin or scientific backing can prove that it is in fact only smoke. An example of a stereotype that has promulgated over time is “Blondes are dumb”. Think of a blonde and the image that comes to mind is of a ditzy woman, baffled by the simplest question. But can the color of one’s hair define one’s intellectual ability? Scientifically, the answer is a resounding “no”. Hair color, like that of the eyes and skin, is decided by one’s genetic makeup, here more specifically the MC1R gene. Variations in this gene lead to different colored tresses, but it has no link to the cognitive makeup or intelligence of a person. Another interesting aspect of this stereotype is that the “dumb blonde” is almost exclusively a label for women and men with lighter locks have escaped this stigma. If being dumb had anything to do with hair color, wouldn’t then this label extend to men as well? It is clear to see that there is no factual basis for this stereotype but is rather a cultural exploitation of a physical trait.