Autistic people in public

what-would-you-do-autism-abc

Public places can be tough for autistic people.

Forums such as restaurants, malls and parks overload their senses and can make it tough for them to cope with their environment. Some autistic individuals try to calm themselves by saying catchphrases from their favorite television shows and movies. Other times they may flap their arms and hands. Despite the challenges autistic people face, it is important to bring them out into the community so they become comfortable with the world around them.

People may stare. Some may even comment, but more times than not, they are ignorant of the disorder. Over the years, Brian has made leaps and bounds in how he behaves in public.

AutismAwarenessMeltdownIn his early years, he would scream and meltdown. It was a tough time, but my parents pushed through. Today neither of us have any issue taking Brian out. Whenever I watch Brian, one of the places I love to take him is the local Barnes and Noble bookstore. Brian and I have also gone to see Beauty and the Beast and The Muppets in theaters. (O.K. maybe I was just as excited to see Kermit as Brian was.)

Taking Brian out into public not only helps him, but also helps the community. In December 2012, ABC aired another version of its popular segment “What Would You Do?” ABC planted a family with an autistic son in a restaurant. Each family member was portrayed by an actor. ABC also planted another actor to play the role of the antagonist. This man was told to make rude comments to the family to incite action from the restaurant patrons.

In two separate trials, multiple people in the restaurant stood up for the family. Seeing how much each person cared about the family showed me that there is hope for autistic people in the community. That ten-minute segment illustrated that while there may be many rude and ignorant people out there, the kind and compassionate greatly outnumber them.

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One thought on “Autistic people in public

  1. Margaret Rappo

    Hi Tom, Another great post!! I think with more and more families having at least one autistic individual as part of their family unit, society has had to change its perception on autism. 10 years ago, I’m not sure ABC would have had the same results. But in today’s society, the general public has been made aware of autism; therefore, society has slowly learned to understand it and be much more compassionate towards families who have an autistic individual. You will always have those individuals who are completely ignorant to anything that is not the norm but you, Tom, and your family have gone to great lengths to educate everyone you come in contact with how to make autistic individuals be accepted and functional in our world. Keep getting the word out. It’s working!!

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