11 Mental Health Disorders That Are 100% Misunderstood

9. Autism spectrum disorder

Autism spectrum disorder ASD written on a paper. Autism spectrum disorder wasn’t well-understood until more recently. | iStock.com/designer491

Only until recent decades has autism spectrum disorder become more widely understood. In fact, from the 1960s through the 1970s, research for treatment of the disorder included LSD and electric shock. Today, ASD is considered a developmental disability that can cause significant social communication and behavioral challenges, and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, affects approximately 1 in 68 children.

“Symptoms of ASD include struggling with social cues, lack of speech or delayed use of communication skills, poor speech quality, stilted or overly literal language patterns, and limited ability to use language for social engagement,” Mendez said. “Other symptoms include limited or absence of eye contact and poor understanding or integration of nonverbal social information.” 

And despite what you may have heard, individuals who have an autism diagnosis are no more likely to be violent than any other member of society. “Violence is not a diagnostic trait associated with autism — it is an injustice to assume social-emotional differences equates to violent behaviors and acting out,” Mendez said.