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Public Image of Autism. CBOS report for the JiM Foundation

96 percent of respondents say they are familiar with the concept of autism. This has increased by 13 percentage points in four years. Most Poles have a general knowledge of what autism is and what characteristics and behaviors distinguish people on the spectrum.

Autistic people are increasingly "visible." Compared to the results of the 2017 survey, the percentage of respondents declaring contact with a person with autism or their history has increased, with indications totaling 59 percent. "A relatively large number of respondents declare contact with a person with autism in the professional field[1]."


Perceptions of autism in people on the spectrum, however, are not without cognitive errors. Common knowledge of the term "autism" is still accompanied by myths and stereotypes.

- The biggest myth still is that vaccinations can cause autism. Scientific studies prove that the origins of autism are neurodevelopmental and go back to the child's prenatal state. The incidence of autism in vaccinated and unvaccinated children is not statistically different. The link between vaccinations and autism is a myth. It should be fought, especially now in times of pandemic ," says Tomasz Michalowicz, president of the JiM Foundation.

Other equally popular stereotypes included:

  1. Above-average, outstanding abilities (63 percent of indications)

Autistic people are just like everyone else. And, as among all people, there happen to be individuals with outstanding talents among them. However, this is not a common trait or characteristic of people on the autism spectrum.

  1. All people with autism have problems recognizing emotions (86 percent of indications)

People with autism learn to recognize emotions. They are able to open up to others, enter into relationships and make friends.

  1. Limited areas of interest (78 percent of indications)

People on the spectrum may have many interests and pay a lot of attention to them.


However, in the same survey, many indications were given to answers that could rule out some of the established myths.

  1. People on the autism spectrum can make friends (68 percent of indications)

This is a frequently indicated answer, which comes despite stereotypes about withdrawal, difficulties in social interaction, and communication problems.

  1. People on the autism spectrum can live independently (53 percent of indications)

Early therapy and increasing awareness and acceptance of autism in society greatly enhance this possibility.

  1. People on the autism spectrum can work professionally (62 percent of indications)

At the same time, 63 percent said that, being an employer, they would choose to hire a person on the spectrum in their company if they met the formal conditions in terms of the required competencies.

Most positive indications have increased since the last survey in 2017. Research indicates that acceptance and awareness of autism in society is increasing. This is a good sign for people on the spectrum, who can count on empathy and support from those around them. It's a signal that every story of people on the spectrum can live to a happy ending.

This request connects directly to this year's campaign of the JiM Foundation - Poland in Blue under the slogan "Autism. Change my story," which is now coming to an end, with its finale on April 2, World Autism Awareness Day.

[1] CBOS report for the JiM Foundation, "Public Image of Autism," 2021

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