While there is still a lot to learn about autism in general, high-functioning autism, also known as Asperger’s syndrome, is considered to be even more of a mysterious condition and people can hold many, sometimes conflicting misconceptions about it.

A Brief Look at Asperger’s Syndrome

There are several reasons why Asperger’s has some many myths surrounding it. After all, it only became an official diagnosis in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) until 1992. Two years later, it became official in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), used by neurologists and psychiatrists across the country in order to classify — and treat — diseases and conditions. Then, in 2013, Asperger’s was folded into the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, which encompasses several, previously separate diagnoses under the autism umbrella.

The big difference between those with Asperger’s syndrome and those with other forms of autism is that Asperger’s patient do have problems with social interactions and communication but do not suffer from the language or cognitive problems that other autistic individuals may have.

However, there are many myths and misconceptions surrounding this disorder: this article discusses these myths as well as their reality.

Myth: Asperger’s is a disease

Asperger’s syndrome is not considered to be a disease in the same ways as cancer. It is considered to be a neurological condition or disorder which affects that way children process information about their environment and react to the environment and to others.

Myth: Asperger’s is caused by exposure to vaccines.

After the first, discredited study which was later retracted and whose lead author was stripped of his medical license, dozens of studies have been done to see if there really is a connection between any form of autism and use of vaccinations. No studies have ever found a link and the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease control both consider vaccination to be safe.

Myth: Most people with Asperger’s are desperate to find a cure.

Many kids with Asperger’s syndrome, far from wanting to find a cure, do not consider themselves to be “ill” to begin with; on the contrary, many consider their syndrome to be an important part of their identity and use their talents to their best advantage.

Myth: Kids will Asperger’s syndrome all have high IQs

While most kids with Asperger’s syndrome are above average — or well above average — in intelligence, some of them simply have normal intelligence.

Myth: Kids with Asperger’s are mentally retarded.

While some people believe that those with Asperger’s syndrome are geniuses, others believe that they are mentally retarded or have other cognitive deficits. As a matter of fact, in order to receive a diagnosis of Asperger’s, a child’s intelligence has to at least be average.

Myth: There is no such thing as Asperger’s syndrome; the kids are simply bad behaved.

Asperger’s syndrome is not made up: it is a legitimate medical diagnosis and behaviors that seem unusual or even disruptive are not because these kids are “brats” or have been poorly parented. It is simply a part of the diagnosis.

Myth: People with Asperger’s syndrome are prone to violence.

In the wake of the Sandyhook Elementary shootings and the rumors that the school shooter had Asperger’s syndrome, many people began to have the misconception that all people with Asperger’s syndrome are mentally imbalanced or prone to violence. Dr. Ami Kline of Emory University noted that this kind of belief does a “tremendous disservice” to people with this condition and is in no way grounded in fact.

In short, Asperger’s syndrome is a complicated — and even mysterious — disorder, which is why so many myths grow up around it. The best way to debunk these myths is to understand the reality of Asperger’s and of those who are diagnosed with it.