Autism, dining out and a side of kindness
April 1st, 2013
03:00 PM ET
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Editor's note: April 2, 2014 is World Autism Awareness Day, and we're sharing this story to continue the conversation about autism in public spaces.

Things are not always as they appear to be. Our recent story "The waitress, the autistic girl and the broken hamburger" shared the experiences of Anna Kaye MacLean, a young woman who was deeply touched by the kindness of a Chili's server to her seven-year-old sister Arianna, who has autism.

While many people interpret Arianna's behavior - sometimes involving violent tantrums and grunting - as uncontrolled brattiness, her older sister will take the time to explain the condition if asked. Occasionally, fellow restaurant patrons will ask to be moved to other tables, give dirty looks, or criticize MacLean's handling of the situation. While the family has never been asked to leave a restaurant, they're keenly aware of other patrons' comfort and will leave of their own accord.

Scenes like this play out in public every day, as evidenced by the over 650 comments that poured in when we posted the story. In observance of National Autism Awareness Month and April 2, World Autism Awareness Day, we're sharing insight from some of our commenters who have experience weathering the minefield that is a restaurant meal.

Please add your voice to the mix and share your own stories in the comments below, or see the reports shared on CNN iReport's assignment: Living with autism: Out in public.

Commenter Autism Mom knows firsthand how far a little kindness and understanding in a public situation can go. Her 17-year-old daughter was diagnosed with autism at age two, and she recently used her experiences to offer hope to some strangers in need of kindness.

In the early years, there were MANY times we left a restaurant with our tails between our legs because she had a meltdown – parents with an autistic child learn quickly not to make eye contact with those around us in these situations because we know we would see only reproach and disgust.

One time recently we were seated adjacent to a family where one child seemed to have a learning disability. His behavior spiraled out of control, and eventually the family left (before finishing dinner), leaving the mom at the table waiting to pay the check. I approached her and told her of our own experiences when Lauren was younger, and told her to KEEP GOING OUT, the reactions they dealt with were the result of ignorance – they had every right to experience a normal life as a family, and that it WOULD get better.

She broke down and wept, having never had a kind word after a situation like that. But she had a smile on her face when she left and was no longer feeling ashamed for her son. If you're the one staring at an unruly child – please give them the benefit of the doubt and don't make judgments when you don't have the full story.

Khawar Nehal shed some light on some commonly occurring behaviors associated with eating. Arianna's upset occurred when she was served a burger that was cut in half, rather than left whole. When a new 'fixed" burger arrived, she kissed it and told it, "I missed you."

Some people growl a bit when they eat. It is akin to the MMMMM of McDonalds. It means I am loving it. Autistic kids have different thought process. The growling is to let you know clearly they are really enjoying this food. The words may not be perfect for a child because they might have trouble "finding" the appropriate words.

The "I missed you" means that the child has seen the complete burger possible and probably was provided the adult burger before in a previous visit. Or seen the adult burger delivered before. The missed you means more likely they have already had a "complete" one piece burger. The reason the autistic child wants a one piece is it is less messy. A messy burger shall make them look "more autistic" and they want to avoid that.

Dad of 2 on the spectrum explained that it is crucial to pick one's battles, especially if it's in the best interest of the community.

There is a balance that needs to be struck. Yes, we can not always give in to the child. I have a 4 and 5 year old that are both near the middle of the spectrum. It is a never ending fight at home to not give in to their inappropriate desires. If I gave my son a burger, and he insisted on getting a new one because it was broken, I will endure a 2 hour meltdown before I would consider giving in.

However, in this case, they were in a social situation. They either give in, or face the possibility that they will have to leave the restaurant because of uncontrollable meltdowns. What if the meltdowns include self damaging behaviors, or stripping off of clothes, or violent outbursts towards others. In a community situation, the best option is often to give in, and work on those issues in the home.

It pays to be a regular, finds single dad, Mike A. He, his seven-year-old son with autism and his nine-year-old neurotypical daughter have gotten to know the staff - and it's been beneficial for both parties.

I now do the call-ahead seating and leave about a half hour window before our arrival to hopefully guarantee that we are at the front of the waiting line at least on the clipboard at the hostess station when we arrive. Many of the servers who know us already have placed the standing order Brody and my daughter before they have even come to say hello. Those who don't know us either get an introduction by myself, or another member of the staff who has served us before and have been given a little insight into who we are and what our meal will be about.

In the case of my local Chili's, one of the waitresses actually came to sit with us one day and started asking me questions about autism. As a result of time spent with us and opening a dialogue and allowing her to see Brody and his sister on almost a weekly basis, she then had her child evaluated and he was found to also be on the spectrum.

Jackie Weiler turned a negative restaurant experience into an opportunity to educate others about autism.

We were regulars at a sushi restaurant and one visit my three-year-old old son with high functioning autism was having a hard day. He began playing with rice and water. He has a lot of sensory issues. He threw some rice on the floor and was splashing water on the table. I quickly cleaned it up, explained to the waitress who also serves as the host that he has autism.

A few weeks later the waitress recognized us and offered to allow us to take advantage of the "happy hour" rate and to take the food home. I thought this was a nice accommodating and thanked her. I explained that it's sometimes hard going to restaurants as my son has autism. Upon returning to the restaurant to pick up my food the waitress asked me to not bring my son into the restaurant that I should come alone.

I asked her if she really meant this, as this is against the Americans with Disability law. I asked her if she understood what that meant and she made the gesture (finger twirling on the head) that he was crazy.

I contacted a local disability advocacy group. They agreed to help me and we met with the owner and explained the ADA law. I offered to not file a Department of Justice complaint if he did the following 1. ADA training for all of his staff, 2. ADA assessment of his restaurant and 3. write an apology that can be published in the advocacy group's newsletter. He agreed and did complete all. He also decided to give $500 to the autism charity of my choice. I decided to use the event as an opportunity for education, change and advocacy.

Momoftwoautism doesn't necessarily expect fellow patrons to understand, but she's grateful for kindness when she comes across it.

Kids with autism do not get over things like other kids do. Their brains do not work that way. They tunnel vision on something that upsets them and their minds get stuck like a needle in a scratch on an long playing record.

In a public place you do what need to do to keep the child calm. I am sure the parents would have gladly paid for another burger and put up with any attitude the server presented if things had gone that way.

I don't expect the whole world to change for my kids. I do however really appreciate when the world gives me a break and does its best to understand them instead of judging them. Believe me, we don't want our kids spoiled so that everything revolves around them. We want them to live in the world reasonably.

Nicole, mother of a 21-year-old with autism, is well aware of the effort it takes to accommodate her family and just asks for a little patience.

My son refuses to eat with regular silverware and insists on using plastic utensils, his food must be on separate plates/bowls as they cannot touch, and he insists on ordering his own meal, which is often given in a nonsensical, rambling manner and usually requires translation. Most servers are very patient with him – which is GREATLY appreciated – but that's not always the case.

Our family wants to dine out like other typical families but it just takes a little extra effort to do so and sometimes, people are simply not as willing to help us to have that experience. It costs nothing to be kind, and as this story proves, the rewards are so much greater.

Christy is the mother of a ten-year-old son with high-functioning autism, who reacted well to repeated exposure to the restaurant environment. To get him there, she had to develop a very thick skin.

We were very, very lucky he ws diagnosed when he was quite young, to expose him to as much as possible so he could deal with the greater environment. I remember taking him to restaurants when he was 2 and 3 years old. The noise and crowding were overwhelming to him. We still took him, and frequently. He at first would sit under the table. Occasionally, a small hand would dart up and snatch food off of the plate set for him. And, my ex-husband and I didn't shorten our meals, didn't leave early, didn't do anything. He was desensitizing.

I didn't care that other diners stared and sometimes even told me I was the worst mother in the world. Today, I can take my son into any restaurant, and he utilizes good manners, is polite, courteous, and sits properly at the table.

And to patrons who are less than understanding of the sometimes uncontrollable behavior exhibited by children with autism, Ann suggests a solution of her own.

Everyone knows that certain restaurants are family establishments. If you don't like dealing with families and children than maybe you should be kept at home until you can learn to comport yourself in a compassionate and empathic manner.

Please add your voice to the mix and share your own stories in the comments below, or upload a report to CNN iReport's new assignment: Living with autism: Out in public.

Some comments have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Previously:
The waitress, the autistic girl and the broken hamburger
When crying kids disrupt dinner, who ends up paying the price?
Are some diners facing discrimination?
I scream. You scream. Some of us scream for scream-free restaurants
Make your kid more restaurant-friendly



soundoff (815 Responses)
  1. Juanita

    My husband and I decided to surprise my 19 year old son and take him to the Academy of Arts and Sciences today. We had a very nice day until we stopped at the dining hall there. He wanted a hot dog, fries and spaghetti. When he was told they were out if spaghetti he threw a FULL blown tantrum in front of about 1000 people. I could barely control him as I am 5'2" and my son is 5'11" and weighs about 200 lbs. I must say it was THE most embarrassing moment of my life. Am I wrong for saying that? I am such a private person and I hate to have to constantly have my life on public display. After my son calmed down I had a man tell me that he should have called security on "that guy". "That guy" being my son. I couldn't even look at people, I was in a daze. I prayed that nobody would recognize me eve again. I had several people move there seats away from us or leave early. I feel so aweful. I love my son so much. I hate this though. I feel soo extremely embarrassed. I feel like hiding in my room for a week.

    January 4, 2014 at 8:24 pm |
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    September 30, 2013 at 10:33 am |
  3. Kris

    I appreciate that kids with special needs and their families have challenges, and do the best they can. I agree that kids with special needs require a little more compassion, and a little more understanding. It is important on may levels.

    That said – my kids do not have special needs. They sometimes had meltdowns in public, and we occasionally left a restaurant with our meals uneaten, or asked for our food to be boxed up so we could take it with us. We didn't leave with our "tail between our legs", nor were we embarrassed; there is nothing to be ashamed of or to apologize for when you are being considerate of others. If they give a dirty look – they are the ones "misbehaving." My point being that it doesn't matter if your kids have special needs or not – all kids have meltdowns, all kids act up, and then good parenting and consideration for others means that you adjust your family and your outing rather than make things difficult for others.

    September 16, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  4. Alicia

    ADA= reasonable accommodation. The key word is reasonable. If the restaurant is getting too many complaints about a child or the noise is to a point where it is hurting other patrons, I don't believe ADA would have had any basis.

    That being said, I think some of us can be too judgmental when it comes to kids, autism spectrum or sensory disorders or not. I've been trying to have more compassion towards children, seeing as i don't have any. However, there have been a few times where parental intervention was needed. I almost got my arm broken by somebody's seven-year old, and had somebody's six-year-old grab my cell phone and throw it across the room. Both instances the parents made "I can't control" excuses, and that's not acceptable.

    August 1, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
  5. jason

    http://www.valleycenter.com/Articles-News-c-2013-05-22-83879.113122-Oakleys-seek-sanction-against-opposing-attorney-for-inappropriate-comments-about-their-son.html

    May 23, 2013 at 11:15 am |
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  8. sputnick1

    leave the kid at home. i don't need a screamer when I try to eat

    April 15, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Sautisticmom

      Next time you stay at home, I don't need obnoxious jerks around when I eat. If you can't behave like a compasionate adult at restaurants you should stay home. You are old enough to know better.

      June 10, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
  9. Khawar Nehal

    How to fix autism by Khawar Nehal

    Date : 13 April 2013

    I first found out about autism when I say the movie mercury rising. That was many years ago. About max 1 year after the movie was released.
    Then I did some reading and found that it could be related to mercury and heavy metals.

    This was based on information where mothers said they saw their child become autistic two weeks after being vaccinated. The vaccines in large bottles had 60% mercury as a preservative because multiple needles are used and multiple shots can be given. This reduces costs. The capitalistic allopathic medicine makers countered this information in as many ways they could.
    Then the information is based on chelation therapy. After getting the heavy metals out of the kids over 2 years the kids are better. Meaning the symptoms of autism are significantly or completely gone.

    Some doctors in the NATO countries have lost their license for practicing allopathy because they allowed chelation therapy.

    The allopathic capitalists countered with a case where a kid died. In this case a chemical was used for chelation accidentally which was not DMSA but a chemical with a similar sounding name.

    DMSA can still be used to reduce the heavy metals.

    A woman wrote a book recently about how to avoid autism in your kids. In her research she found that autism children have a leaky gut and gastrointestinal problems. This causes the guts to lose iron to the outside of the body. Iron in the body prevents heavy metals from getting inside and accumulating in the body. If the iron levels drop, then the heavy metals accumulate. If heavy metals accumulate then the child or person becomes autistic.

    I read many years ago that alzihemers might be linked to aluminum. No idea who found that out but I used to pester my wife to buy expensive heavy steel pots instead of aluminum ones. One time she explained that aluminum pots spread the heat better. So I even saw a Rs 4500 pot which was steel on top and had a 1 cm thick aluminum base. Most expensive pot I ever saw or bought. Spreads the heat evenly and only steel touches the food. This was in a shop in Mohammad Ali society in Karachi.

    There was one research I read about where they take a hair sample of a kid and check for aluminum content. The autistic kids have more aluminum in their hair samples. So the autism is linked to aluminum. Other metals like chromium, copper and some more are also accumulated not just aluminum.

    If a human kid eats cement from the walls, dust, earth or other such stuff, then the kid is low in iron. This I learned from the Internet and some americans know this. A kid shall have a cookie in one hand and earth in another and the earth shall automatically be eaten. This is some built in human reaction to get iron into the body. I found this out because I know more than one kid eating earth.

    Allopathic doctors can increse iron levels fast by a blood transfusion and iron supplements. Other natural and better ways are to eat iron rich foods. If the kid or person is allergic to many iron rich foods, then you need to stop their consumption of junk foods and processed foods. This shall reduce their allergies of foods over time and then they can eat iron rich or any other foods like a natural human.

    I read a bit about iron. There is no way a body can excrete iron. All iron is recycled from dead cells. Iron is required for cell replication. If there is too little iron the heavy metals may accumulate and the person becomes autistic. But bacteria also cannot replicate easily. So the human becomes less prone to sickness. If there is too much iron then there can be other complications and the human can get bacterial infections more easily because the foreign bacterias can access more iron for their replication.

    Autistic children have a gut issue. Some cases say it may be due to allergies and gluten. So the first thing they do is transfer to a gluten free diet and the iron stop leaking and the heavy metals reduce and the autistic symptoms reduce consideraably. You also need to complement with a iron rich diet. Measure the iron level carefully not to over do it or else high iron issues may start. This iron fixing process can take months to two years. Better to do is slowly and naturally then too fast.

    There may be other reasons and types of autism. But this is my research so far. I hope people can help avoid the misinformation being spread by the allopathic companies and get results.

    The FDA banned multiple doctors from chelation therapy and after many years of stopping them, came out recently with an expensive drug with many side effects and does not cure the issue. Just sort of pacifies. Like a pain killer that they like to sell. Never fix the root cause but kill the pain and alarm. Pay the right affordable amount for ever in the name of hope.

    Other countries who used DMSA to reduce heavy metals over a six month research found that autism symptoms were reduced by a measurable and about 20 – 30%. So it seems like in 2 years you can fix it.

    There have been many cases where they can fix in 6 months but I would not want to take hopes up so fast.

    Procedure,
    1. check heavy metal levels,
    2. check iron levels,
    3. check leaky gut symptoms.
    4. Change foods to fix gut issues.
    5. Fix iron levels with food or other methods
    6. Chelate with DMSA if in a hurry. (The FDA is going to be furious because DMSA is a low cost drug).
    7. Measure symptoms. Do not let iron levels exceed normal levels.
    8. Inshallah you shall have cured autism completely.

    Disclaimer :
    I am not afraid of the FDA because I do not have an MBBS degree to lose. I am a researcher who is reporting and summarizing what I read.
    You can check this information and all research before taking any responsibility.
    Do not even think of blaming me if you cause problems. You are doing everything at your own risk and responsibility.

    I do not represent any FDA, NGO, or drug company. I do not even know who makes or patents DMSA.
    I am providing this information so you can check it before use and also provide some feedback of any other info you can find and summarize for the assistance of others against the major propaganda which I have seen by the drug companies.

    The doctors may know this but cannot practice it without the risk of losing their license to work. Many doctors have lost their work permits for this.

    But mothers have had results on their own.
    Actually most of this information is available from the work done by mothers who refused to take no as an answer to a solution to their kids issues.

    Non NATO countries which are not linked to the capitalist banking system have done actual scientific research to corroborate the heavy metal and DMSA information.

    So please check this information and lets get cracking to a solution instead of worrying about it.

    Regards,

    Khawar Nehal

    http://www.atrc.net.pk/cms2/index.php/component/content/article?id=101

    April 12, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • BladeRunner

      Khawar, my daughter showed signs of autism right after I brought her home from NICU (she was part of a set of twins). She and her brother spent 10 days there (no major issues, they said...just precautionary). When she came home, she would not rest on my chest like her brother did. She would cry, claw at me, climb up my chest to try to get away..She would become extremely agitated. She only allowed close contact if there was a bottle involved. She had low muscle-tone... (didn't hold head up until 5 months of age). She slept way to long in between feedings and I would find myself having to wake her up. She was diagnosed as autistic at 16 months of age... So, how would the standard battery of vaccines account for all this?

      April 16, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • Robert Poole

      The idea that vaccines cause autism is based upon a single study of insufficient size, which was later found to be conducted fraudulently. The paper was subsequently retracted.

      The idea that autism can be cured is attractive, but currently there are no known cures for autism that are accepted by the medical community. And as someone diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, I resent the implication that I'm somehow "broken" and need to be fixed. Many autistic people I know feel the same.

      Finally, Khawar, I have noticed that you have spammed this exact same lengthy comment in several of CNN's discussion boards, which is technically against the Terms of Service and, more importantly, is kind of sleazy (not to mention rude). Please stop mass-posting these claims, since they are medically disproven. It is highly irresponsible to be spreading misinformation like this, and doubly so to be claiming a "cure" that won't actually work (and could, as someone pointed out in another CNN comment thread on another article, be very dangerous — you mention chelation, which is dangerous, and you simultaneously imply the FDA is engaged in a conspiracy, which should be a red flag to any thinking person).

      Please promote your website elsewhere. Thank you.

      September 25, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Sheogorath

      Except that no genuine studies have found any link between Autism and the mercury compounds (not mercury itself) that used to preserve childhood vaccines. As for the mercury componds in the MMR, there never were any because they would have killed the live attenuated bacteria and rendered the vaccine ineffective. Now p### off and peddle your pseudo-science elsewhere. May I suggest Age of Autism?

      June 30, 2014 at 10:48 pm |
    • mplo

      Oh, come on! There IS no link to vaccines and autism. That so-called "link" between vaccines and autism was disproved and tossed out by the wayside years ago, and that charlatan, the British-born Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who started the anti-vaccine movement lost his license to practice medicine because it was found that he'd deliberately and knowingly used falsified data to compose his study of the so-called "link" between vaccines. Dr. Andrew Wakefield deserved to lose his license to practice medicine, imho.

      The anti-vaccine movement is yet another way of finding fault and putting blame on people for something such as autism, which just happens as a coincidence. Blaming somebody or something does no good, because if autism is going to happen, it's going to happen, no matter what.

      July 28, 2014 at 6:57 pm |
  10. Beefburger

    NEVER be ashamed of who you or your kids are, EVER. I am an Aspie father with an Aspie son. Maybe it is easier for me to see what is from the condition and what is simply a behaviour issue. We work on issues at home, he has learned that there will be repercussions, when three fingers start to count down, by "ONE" he has had time to think over his choice of actions. THE BEST THING I HAVE FOUND IS A PREEMPTIVE HUG!

    April 7, 2013 at 7:25 am |
  11. Upset

    I read the article and comments section last night. What a mistake! I was disturbed and sickened by what several people had to say. EVERYONE needs to understand Autism is NOT like a cold; the symptoms (and behaviors) will not be the same for all, or most, it is a disorder of many faces and affects those that have it and their families in a Variety of ways. It's SHAMEFUL that anyone could sit behind their computers or I-phones and spew such hateful, foul, and cruel words all in the name of 'their rights'. Be Compassionate if you can't be kind. Children, regardless of whether or not they have a disorder are going to act up on occasion because children can NOT function, respond, or reason like adults can. And I'm going to tell you that much of the bad behavior that I witness when I'm at restaurants are adults who have serious etiquette and behavior issues NOT children, and they should know better! You can have a good dining experience around autistic and disabled people but you too must show that you have fit for public manners and not be an ass yourself, for surely that is how you are viewed when you are rude and unpleasant. Not one of you has the right to say a child shouldn't live because of some disability or disease. Not one of you has the right or intelligence to say words like "all", "most", or "many" in regards to these children or their parents. Maybe you've had a bad experience or a few, but your sampling of people or this sort of situation is very small in the main. No one has found a cause for why autism is so "popular" now, but consider that even twenty or thirty years ago we did not have the technology to test or diagnose many disorders that we do today. Consider that we do not have the same lifestyles of that past or the resources we do today. Parents of children with autism, spectrum disorders, add, adhd, don't feel ashamed by this, but don't feel entitled either. Be gracious and considerate. You know when your child has reached it's limit and should be removed from a situation that's upset them. Don't stick around just to prove something to yourself or others if its in their best interest to be removed from the restaurant for even a few minutes. There are many ways you can make their experiences better; not choosing peak meal times, asking for a quieter section or table where they aren't exposed to as much stimuli, giving them something that helps soothe them during their meal, keeping it as routine as you can. That's a good rule of thumb for any child because most children thrive when they have at least the illusion of control and safety.

    April 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • BladeRunner

      Hi, "Upset"

      I very much appreciate what you wrote. Thank you. Also, people need to consider that, sometimes, parents may find themselves in a situation where they CAN'T simply remove a child. The park is one example where I have had to take my kids out when they were acting up.. but, as I am not Ironwoman, I can't simply just pick up a kicking, tantruming kid who weighs over 50 lbs. I won't take my kids out to restaurants just yet (they are 8) but...I have had to take the bus with them (after work from the daycare near my job to my home) and some people were unimaginably horrid. What was I supposed to do? Have us WALK 4 miles home every night? Some people I will never forget.. to the lady who, upon seeing me, would get up and, if there were two open seats, intentionally sit in both of them just so that I wouldn't be able to seat my kids (who told me if I didn't like it then I should wait for the next bus..never mind that it would be 30 minutes...), to the (non-disabled) guy taking up two seats in the disabled section on a crowded local bus (one for himself and one for his designer purse), who refused to move his purse for my daughter (who, technically IS disabled) because my "procreating was not his problem".. Embrace your upcoming Karma (if it hasn't already rocked your world).

      April 9, 2013 at 11:49 am |
      • "Upset"

        'Bladerunner', I wish there were a way to private msg you. It would be nice to msg with you via email or facebook or some other outlet. I do hope you will check back so you are able to see this response. I wanted to let you know that I have received no response from CNN regarding my email to them expressing my concerns regarding the mediation of the comments posted to this article and my suggestion that CNN give coverage to the facts of detection and variation in symptoms of Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders. I do hope to get some others to challenge CNN to do the same but you can hardly force others to do something you feel is just or right. I was thinking that some people considered Autism as a detectable deformity of the brain, which just isn't the case. My husband suggested they were confusing Autism with Down's Syndrome or a more obvious 'defect'. I think it is possible ASD's may not be detectable in utero; it is a neurological issue and the brain of babies in utero will not be able to be stressed and stimulated in the same ways as a toddler/young child's is. 'We' (those in the medical field) are still working on being able to detect ASD's in younger children (under 4-5 yrs old). We still have great strides to make both medically and as an accepting and compassionate society.

        April 13, 2013 at 11:56 am |
        • BladeRunner

          Hi "Upset" – I just noticed your latest response. So, you are in the field. I am not surprised. I would love to communicate with your further. What the heck. People aren't looking at this site anymore, so here is my email address (I hope you haven't given up looking for my response): sunnydays523@yahoo.com.
          I hope to hear from you soon.

          April 22, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
        • BladeRunner

          With YOU further (not "with your further" – sorry – not enough coffee). But, I do believe there are heritable components...

          I'm a Fragile X carrier (I didn't always know it). My twins inherited this. My grandfather was an aeronautical engineer for 25 years at Bendix Corp. In his later years, he was so obsessed with his ham radio that he would hole himself up in his basement for days at a time. A book was even written about him ("Hello World – A Life in Ham Radio"). My older half-brother (engineering background as well), who I met only a few times, came across as socially "different." I've been called out for being "a little different" as well. I recently read the CNN article about hiring "Aspies" and, my God, everything Dave Wellman listed was something I had experienced at work at one time or another. Every trait that he detailed was in sync with my own traits (it was like... "check.. yep... mm hmm....").

          April 22, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • BladeRunner

      Meant to add that, in neither of those cases (on the bus) were my children even misbehaving at that point... However, upon experiencing the discrimination and hatred of those people who were making life difficult for us, their behavior DID escalate... Sometimes, people would say things at/in front of my children that became catalysts that brought out the "bad" behavior. My daughter's anxiety came out when she realized that people were intentionally preventing her from having a seat on the bus (for God's sake...she was only FIVE back then). So when people say that parents of special-needs kids act entitled.. NO, NO, NO...We just expect our basic rights to be considered as much as the next person's...

      April 9, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
      • Upset

        Bladerunner, I am sorry you and your family had to experience this sort of cruelty. It is truly shameful. I understand that not every situation will be one in which you can take a break and get out of a situation which is over stimulating for your children. I wanted to say that I contacted CNN about several of the comments left on this article as I feel they violated the terms of 'rules of conduct'. I would encourage others who also feel the obscenity of such comments do the same. I have suggested CNN would do well to educate others on ASD as there seems to be some confusion. Some people have left comments that do more than suggest they believe ASD's are a deformity which can be detected in utero. "Huh" on that one. Aside from that I hope your children have not had to experience this too much, though one time is one time too many.

        April 9, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
        • BladeRunner

          Thank you.

          I appreciate that. You went beyond just expression of disgust. You actually DID something about it. As to people's suggestions that this can be detected in utero... No... no yet anyway... Because I was 35 and it was my first pregnancy (after trying for 2 years), I was given amnio/genetic testing very early on (10 weeks – they call it chorionic villi sampling). They didn't find any issues. But...Make no mistake... they cannot (yet) test fetus/es for autism. They test for other things, like Down's Syndrome for example. However, Fragile X Disorder IS a condition that has been heavily associated with conditions like autism and ADHD. However, it has not yet been incorporated into standard prenatal screenings (They should – as at LEAST 1 in 259 women are carriers of the PREmutation of it; I have just recently found out that I am a carrier, and that my twins' conditions are a direct result of having Fragile X passedon to them). And, let's face it... How many women who get pregnant even know about that condition, leave alone request a blood test to rule it out?? Medical science still has a long way to go. Some people, out of ignorance, assume that autism can be detected in the womb because they probably confuse it with the fact that Down's CAN be detected...I am hoping that one day Fragile X will be included in the standard battery of neonatal tests. But I, personally wouldn't change a thing (as hard as it's been). My daughter is a sweet, funny soul, is reading 5th grade-level books (as a 2nd grader), has an amazing, advanced vocabulary (for a girl who didn't speak until age 4) and is beating the computer at chess (playing Chess Titans). People also need to realize that neurological issues are separate and different from intellectual issues... For example I have known people with bipolar mood disorder and they tend to be brilliant. My wish is that one day, society will be accepting of our neurological differences...

          April 10, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  12. scottdarren23

    In order to have an opinion on this subject one must spend a day (at least) with a child or adult with severe Autism. Come back to me and tell me the "myth" of autism then. I'm astounded by the ignorance of many of the comments here.

    April 3, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
  13. Kclynne

    I'm a single mom of two amazing children. My oldest, who is ten, was diagnosed at 4 1/2 after nearly 3 years of trying to figure out what was going on with my son. My daughter is a typical child. My son developed normally, in fact was considered farther ahead in his development than those his age until around 18 months old. Then the language started slipping away, and by 22 months old he stopped speaking. He was back on a bottle and he stopped feeding himself or eating food with the help of others. A few on this later when my daughter was born, I was basically raising two new borns. My marriage quickly crumbled, as I put all my time and effort into figuring out what was happening to my son. My fellow military service men and women were extremely understanding of all the time I needed to take off work for the countless therapies. Going out in public was a nightmare. I cried after what should have been a 15 minute grocery store trip turned into an hour or more. Nothing I did worked, and I felt like a failure as a parent. After I left the military we moved, my marriage now ended in divorce, and took on the challenge on my own. I ended up in a wonderful community, and a great school system. Together we made breakthrough after breakthrough. Our public outings started small. Visits to the grocery store only.
    My son is now nearly 11. He has a wide vocabulary. Socially we still have some problems, but with the help of routine, understanding, persistence, patience, medication (just to name a few), he is now a member of the elementary band, was on the wrestling team, learned to ride a bike, and even got to teach his 5th grade class about sharks. I am very strict on both my children. I push my son past his breaking point so he learns that just because something isn't fun or is uncomfortable, we can get passed it and a greater opportunity awaits. There are some moments where restaurants can cause problems. I have learned to work those to my advantage. Issues typically rise around buffets or very large restaurants. To help reduce anxiety, we discuss our plans ahead of time, and I always give him a choice, so e has some form of control.
    Years of work has brought us to this day. Years of tears, laughter, dirty looks, and pain. But I can promise those parents out there that it can and will get better. Community awareness, our own awareness, and helping our children understand their own limitations, and their great abilities, it can all come together.

    To all of you who say autism isn't real, or its lack of discipline....I hear more times than not that I am to hard on my kids. That I need to let loose. I ground both, take away privileges, and such. Timeouts don't work, neither do spankings. Many times these children don't understand. Half the time my son can't remember why he did something wrong. The process to help him remember can take hours. But when we get a breakthrough, we discuss why we can't do things, and what the consequences are. We aren't parents who don't care, or don't work our butts off. I raise two children on my won, while pursuing two degrees, own my own business, run a non-profit and work for the local college. My children are given every opportunity to succeed and are taught discipline and right from wrong. Open yourself to the fact that not everything is black and white and stop being so ignorant to the real world.

    April 3, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • Dwhite Power

      TL;DR

      Seriously? You honestly think this wall of text will change anyone or anything? You invest far too much in this blog. Instead, you should work on your parenting capabilities with the failures that managed to escape from your abyssmal vagina. Jimmy Rustles, out.

      April 4, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
      • U R an Ignorant Pig!

        @ "Dwhite Power" Actually...She IS working on her parenting capabilities. She chose to detail that. At least she didn't post anything hateful. You obviously invested some of your time in posting more ignorant hate that we really don't need any more of. If it bothers you so much then you shouldn't have even clicked on this article. Why the unwarranted hate and the unnecessary "abysmal vagina" comment? I've heard many such horrid comments... The comments of that nature came mostly from gay males. Is it that you hate women in general? Is it that you can't/won't reproduce the conventional way so you take your frustration out on straight parents?? And, if you in fact, ARE gay, then before you continue your ranting about your rights, marriage equality, etc., etc. then why don't you first start by respecting the rights of others, which includes the disabled???

        April 5, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
      • Beefburger

        PLEASE DON'T FEED THE TROLLS

        April 7, 2013 at 7:27 am |
      • Sheogorath

        @ Dwhite Power: You should work on your suicidal capabilities since you're clearly a failure that managed to escape from your mother's abysmal vagina.

        June 30, 2014 at 10:56 pm |
  14. BladeRunner

    As a parent of 8 year-old twins who were born with Fragile X: resulting in a daughter with mild-to-moderate autism and a son who hasn't sat still since practically at birth (diagnosed severe ADHD by three doctors), I can now say that the worst thing I have experienced out of all of this is the inevitable exposure to ignorance, sweeping judgments, and extreme and unnecessary hatred, which I would have never have possibly imagined otherwise. I know that I could never see "people" the same way again. The unbelievable posts on here speak for themselves. To those whose lives have been apparently "ruined" by my and others' little "brats." WE ARE NOT TRYING TO IMPOSE OUR KIDS ON YOU (Grow up, it's not all about you!). WE DON'T EXPECT YOUR HELP OR EVEN YOUR UNDERSTANDING. WE ARE NOT TRYING TO RUIN YOUR LIVES, YOUR DAY OR YOUR MEAL. We are just trying to live...like everyone else... and sometimes that may mean we HAVE to bring our kids to the store (which I try to do as little as possible); or take them to a doctor's appt on a bus, etc. For those of us whose children are affected, just living IS a trying endeavor for US. Your hatred, judgment, comments, and sometimes even outright threats and harrassment is unnecessary. It won't help and it won't make all the "retarts" "brats" and whatever other disgusting hateful things you like to call them just go away. All we ask of "people" like you is to act like adults (and, yes, that also means not picking fights with my kids who are still, sfter all, just minors!) and if you don't want to help (God forbid) that's fine... But you could do us a favor and just say nothing. It takes less energy.

    April 3, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
  15. comment

    i work with children who have autism, and there are some things people need to understand. These kids do often times need more structure and boundaries, but they also need to be taught flexibility. There are kids who are so rigid and set in their ways on the things they like and don't like that it's not good for them. For example, some kids will only eat certain things because of the texture or the taste (often favoring junk foods), so we will work with them to get them to eat healthier foods. You can bet this is usually met with meltdowns galore, but they need to be taught that the world isn't always going to give them what they want, when they want.

    Same thing applies with taking autistic kids to restaurants. People who have never had any experience with these children don't know how taxing it can be on the childrens' families on a daily basis. These families deserve a break to go out like everyone else, even if that means bringing their children along. Plus, helping these kids to function along with everyone else means exposing them to different social settings. When we take the kids I work with on outings to places and behaviors erupt, I know that people stare, but I don't back down. If need be, we explain the situation. I'm actually surprised though because through the years, people have definitely become more understanding, and we do get people who offer their help.

    April 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  16. WDG

    I have the deepest respect for parents raising a child with autism or any other type of developmental disability. I can certainly understand that their behavior can be unpredictable and have no problem exhibiting every amount of patience and understanding I can while they try to defuse a situation.

    Now for the parents of children who have not been diagnosed with any type of disorder yet think it's perfectly acceptable to let their demon spawn yell, scream and run around a restaurant...STAY HOME!! As a parent, I would never have let my child act that when when she was younger. If you can't instill some discipline and social graces into your child then stay home until you can. I should not have to have my meal ruined by your screaming brats running around the restaurant knocking things over because you don't have the common sense, courtesy or civic responsibility to teach them some manners.

    April 3, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  17. Mark T

    This is a way-overdiagnosed condition. People are making very big money out of selling medications to helpless parents who really only need some parenting skills.

    There are probably a few genuine cases, but only a tiny percent of what is currently accepted as "autistic".

    April 3, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • Optimus

      Maybe it is an overdiagnosed condition. But let's be clear here, many of the issues that parents face due to autism aren't simply settled by good parenting skills. Each case is different with some cases requiring no medication to the more extreme cases where medication is indeed required. First, let me point out that the medication given to a specific child with autism does NOT treat the autism itself. The medication prescribed entirely depends on the child and the symptoms. Typically, the prescribed medication is used to treat severe behavioral symptoms such as depression and anxiety. Good parenting alone in many cases simply isn't enough.

      April 3, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • LOLcat

      You are CLUELESS, my friend.. It is a REAL condition.. I have a twin boy and girl, and apply excellent parenting skills equally to both. The girl doesn't have autism, the boy does. His reactions, behavior etc. are way different compared to the girl's, and is in line with what hundreds describe in these posts. It may look like 'clueless parenting' but trust me, we're not clueless – you are.

      April 8, 2013 at 6:20 am |
    • Sautisticmom

      WHOA, hold the phone...there is a medication out there I can give my son for autism?????

      Spend about 5 minutes educating yourself before you make stupid statements.

      June 10, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • peridot2

      One in 38 male infants born today is on the autism spectrum. That's not a tiny percentage but a huge increase in autistic people. It's an epidemic.

      August 18, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
      • mplo

        It's not that autism is on the increase. More people are being diagnosed with autism, because there's much more awareness of it than there once was.

        July 28, 2014 at 7:19 pm |
    • Sheogorath

      @ Mark T: I personally know someone who was told that her son was on the Spectrum by his school. Turns out that they were saying this to a fair few parents so they could get more money for teaching their kids. However, after several months of worry and thinking why she hadn't spotted the signs, my friend was told that her son isn't Autistic at all and those assessing him couldn't see why the school would have said that he was. So basically, schools want Autism to be over-diagnosed, but Autism professionals make sure that it isn't.

      June 30, 2014 at 11:02 pm |
  18. William Mee

    A one-time offence by a parent of allowing their autistic child to run rampant and out of control in a restaurant will gain them a place on the Autistic Parent Registry.

    They will then be required by a court to have a credit card with a $10,000 limit available on the registry. Any further offences will cause the checks of every single patron (in the next restaurant that they violate) to be charged on said credit card.

    This responsibility will give the parents a greater incentive to train their child correctly, or simply not go out to inflict their psychotic offspring on society.

    April 3, 2013 at 3:36 am |
    • SickofIdiots

      I have an child with autism, and he is generally very well behaved in public. On the rare occasion that he becomes disruptive, we leave the situation as quickly as we can, to not disturb those around us. I am just grateful that when he was diagnosed at the age of 2 and struggled to go out of the house without disruptive behavior, we had wonderful and patient friends who would tolerate the behavior to help us help our son get used to different environments and situations. Today he is very well behaved in public, to the point where many people can't even tell that there is an issue. Too bad there aren't more people on this board like those friends of ours, who recognize that my child was not a "psychotic retard" or whatever other inflammatory insults people on this board want to sling while they hide behind their computer. My child is a human being, and should be entitled to the same rights and priveleges that other so-called human beings on this message board enjoy. Enjoy your karma, sir. I'm sure it's coming. Hopefully when it does you are shown more compassion than you have shown others less fortunate than yourself.

      April 3, 2013 at 8:11 am |
    • Beefburger

      Why do I get the feeling that it is the same @$$hole troll over and over posting different names?

      April 7, 2013 at 7:31 am |
    • Sheogorath

      @ William Mee: The only psychopathic (which is what I think you meant by 'psychotic'. Autism isn't a mental illness) offspring I ever see are those who, like you, have a complete lack of empathy.

      June 30, 2014 at 11:05 pm |
  19. Christopher frierson

    Tom Swift had the right idea.... Euthinasia for all defectives and retards, then we eat them.

    April 2, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • Charlton Heston

      Soylent Green IS, after all, people.

      April 3, 2013 at 6:47 am |
    • LOLcat

      So, dear "Chris", I have the oversized frying pan with boiling oil all ready, chopping knives and spices lined up, and my dinner guests seated in lip-smacking anticipation – please disrobe, then jump in :)

      April 8, 2013 at 6:25 am |
    • You're a moron

      Yes, and they should start with you! Since you and people like you are obviously the ones with a problem!

      April 30, 2013 at 10:18 am |
  20. Green Beret

    I am amazed that so many people complain about being "disturbed" while eating out. Oh you poor babies!! You can take your spoiled selves to Ruby Tuesday and then freak out because a child acts up? Here's some advice – shut your lazy mouths and just be thankful that you have the ability to go to a restaraunt in relative security. If your biggest problem while stuffing your face is the kid in the next booth – special needs or not – then your life is pretty blessed.

    April 2, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • SamIam

      Really? Really? wow!

      April 2, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • brown

      Well said.

      April 2, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • Annoyed

      Nope. Not my problem if you have a bratty child. It is one thing if they are throwing a tantrum and you are not in full control, it is another if you sit back and watch them run around the place screaming.

      April 2, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
    • Rude Tuesday Dining

      GB, funny you should mention Ruby Tues. and a child acting up. My hubby & I were dining at RT's recently and there was a spoiled brat and her child dining with 2 friends. The child was roughly 2 years old and he was all over the place – standing in the seat, crawling under the table, eating off everyone's plate but his own and throwing food at mommy. Only twice during the entire experience did the spoiled brat tell him to sit down and behave (because the word "behave" by itself explains exactly what he's supposed to do) or he wouldn't get a ride on the mall's "choo train."

      Well, he continued to not behave by her standards. They left RT's a few minutes before we did. As we were leaving, guess what he was doing? Yup. He was boarding the mall's "choo train." And the spoiled brat? All she talked about during the meal was terrible two's and getting another beer.

      April 3, 2013 at 7:05 am |
    • Simone

      People in a restaurant are paying hard earned money to enjoy a dining experience. People with special needs children or just badly behaved children should be courteous that other people are not there to be disturbed by kids throwing a tantrum. I know I'm not paying money to hear a child scream & act out. It's just good manners to stay home or leave a situation if your child isn't going to act correctly in public.

      April 3, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
      • Sheogorath

        @ Simone: It's just good manners to stay home or leave a situation if you're scared of children who don't behave impeccably in public. They're children, they have much to learn. You, however, should know better.

        June 30, 2014 at 11:10 pm |
    • tcp

      De oppresso liber my friend, De oppresso liber!

      August 7, 2013 at 11:46 am |
  21. Ya know

    When I was growing up we seldom went out to eat. Not because of Autism or anything like that, but because we didn't have a lot of money. Was that fair to us? And we turned out just fine, well except for the bitterness towards not eating you....but I'm over it....really....

    April 2, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
    • BoogerFree

      Wow, thanks for the stoopid comment.

      April 2, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
  22. PS

    To those who are saying autistics are "brats," that they "need a good beating," that you would "make it look like an accident," judging parents who are brave enough to weigh in their thoughts, ad infinitum – chew on this if you have the mental capacity for it:

    I am married.
    I have two children, one of whom is an honor student in college.
    I own a house.
    I am the primary breadwinner in my home.
    I have a Master's degree.

    Oh, also, I am autistic.

    Gotcha!

    I got my diagnosis as an adult. Contrary to your notions, I didn't use it to excuse my behavior but to finally learn how to navigate in the world in a way that I could be a better person by learning to cope with my limitations instead of living in shame because no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't be "normal."

    Also, the honor student in college? Autistic. Same with my youngest. They both like restaurants – and hotels, and travel, and visiting famous landmarks, and competing in sports, and dancing in the rain, and writing, and creating, and a whole load of other fun, exciting ways to enjoy life.

    They, too, have taught me to be a better person – autistic children are GREAT at teaching you patience, introspection, and how to be open to change. You cannot go through life as a parent of an autistic with your sphincter clenched so tight you could crush rocks and fart sand with it.

    When I compare what I see in my kids with your coming on here and spending what appears to be hours trolling decent folks, I think they're turning out to be better folks than you could ever hope to be. You're also making me very, very grateful I didn't have any of you as my parents – and I say this as someone who had a far from spectacular upbringing.

    I'm not sure what, if anything, could help those of you spewing your hate and judgment be better people at all. Kind of hard to do that when you're pretty inhuman at the core.

    April 2, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
  23. Kay

    Hmm. While I understand that some restaurants are family establishments, what does that mean for all the other families dining there when a child throws a tantrum? The point is that families come to a restaurant for a meal with their family–not to listen to a child scream and yell and then proceed to throw a tantrum. When it's something minor like refusing to eat or something that's not a big disturbance, it's no problem. But when it gets to tantrum level, you need to leave with your child and spare the rest of the families there trying to eat. My daughter does not have autism, but has thrown a tantrum in a restaurant before and I did pack up our meal and we left, because children need to learn that if they will not cooperate, they cannot go out to dinner. Going out should be a reward or a treat; not a thing you do where you allow your child to have fits and then sit there and act like everyone else should just pretend it's not happening. The reason why we left during this particular dining experience is because it is rude to subject a restaurant full of people to my child's tantrum or fit. It should not matter if your child is autistic or not; fits in public are not acceptable. It's common courtesy to others. Stop being offended that others do not want to experience a meltdown with you. If your child cannot control himself or herself, or if you cannot control their behavior, why subject others to it? I don't do it and I'm glad because I'm teaching my child that the whole world does not revolve around her. It is not right to accommodate someone so that their child might behave.

    April 2, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • HG

      Agree. My son is high functioning autistic. When he was small, his daycare provider would let him get away with alot because "that's his condition" – and I say NO, he may have a harder time staying within boundaries, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have boundaries. Autistic children need boundaries and structure MORE than other children. He is polite, eats out well. What we don't get is eye contact and conversation during the meal. We, fortunately, did not have issues with meltdowns or temper tantrums with him, as we did with our younger son, who is NOT autistic. More often than not the kid with the bratty behavior is NOT the one who is handicapped, but the one with a weak parent(The "now honey, we don't do that" parent who let's the kid rule).

      April 2, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
    • Sheogorath

      @ Kay: Meltdowns are far different to tantrums. Tantrums say, "I want my way and I want it now!" whereas meltdowns say, "I'm in (sensory) distress, but I'm unable to communicate what's wrong!" If a parent's scolding is doing no good in getting their child to behave (genuine scolding, not empty threats), then that child is melting down, not being a brat. Take it from an Autistic person.

      June 30, 2014 at 11:17 pm |
  24. Justinbunny

    As much as we want to placate to the child's disability, they will have little chance of living in any situation but a home or institution unless they can be socialized in some manner.

    April 2, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
  25. James A.

    If it becomes possible to successfully control for autistic genes, then we can control for psychopathic genes as well. Psychopaths must be removed from the gene pool before anything else, first, for obvious reasons – right? Imagine how peaceful the world would be if we could eradicate psychopathy from the face of the Earth. Then again, we would not have psychopaths (or autistics) if nature had not intended it. So, apparently, the diversity is both necessary and beneficial for the overall health of humankind. So stop trashing on differences!

    April 2, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
  26. Charlie B

    Why is it that we have so many kids with Autism today??

    April 2, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • Eric

      Because it is a spectrum. Thus it can be expanded so every person falls somewhere on it. It has become far to broad of a spectrum and now days fairly normal behavior can label you as autistic your whole life. Since normal people are being labeled autistic the need to remove the burden of that label has become inevitable. It really would have been far more simple to not continually expand the spectrum and instead do a better job labeling certain behaviors as child like behavior.

      April 2, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
      • Beefburger

        Excuse the fuq out of me sir! We have a label for you so called "normal" people, too! It is usually something like @$$HOLE. Some of us do not consider our condition to be in line with the insulting term of "disorder". I have been gifted with the Aspie traits of a high IQ (IQ 140 which places me in the top 1%) as well as being able to concentrate on tasks for long periods of time. It is great for my high-tech job that enables you @$$HOLES the ability to be on this forum at all. As a matter of fact Aspies gravitate towards high technology. So what is YOUR super power motor mouth?

        April 7, 2013 at 7:42 am |
    • FSM

      Because MSM says so!

      April 2, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
  27. rainbow cadet

    Folks here keep saying, if you don't like kids acting up at dinner, don't go to "family" restaurants.. My question is why is it okay to put up with insufferable children even at "family" restaurants. Just because it is a "family" restaurant does not give you an excuse not to be a parent and not insist that your child behave. What ever happened to teaching the kids to sit through a meal, talk quietly and behave during dinner at home, and THEN taking the kids out to a restaurant AFTER manners have been learned?

    April 2, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • Jennell

      My son has Down Syndrome. He is 7 but is mentally aligned with a 1-2 year old. He is typically terrific at restaurants if we give him my cell phone so he can watch Sesame Street. Sometimes though, he can get noisy and excited. I do not take him out of the restaurant because it gives me a chance to teach him to use his inside voice. He doesn't always listen but is getting better at it. So, am I not being a parent because my son can not always follow directions, no fault of mine or his? It is a family restaurant and we have every right to be there just as you do. To tell you the truth, never once has anyone said something negative about him to us while out, quite the opposite, people gravitate towards him and adore him.

      April 2, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
      • Sheogorath

        Well said, Jennell.

        June 30, 2014 at 11:20 pm |
    • Dane Moser

      It's great having a step-son who has down-syndrome, I love taking him out to eat out at family restraunts. He can't help having down-syndrom, but its fun to laugh at people who are really fat. I'm thinking a comment from you rainbow you are more or less a fat person, and in need to pick on somebody.

      April 2, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
  28. Tara

    I was a bit troubled by Jackie Weiler's comments. "We are regulars at a sushi restaurant..." What three year old, a high functioning autistic or not, likes a sushi restaurant, especially if you know they've had a rough day? When I was growing up, dining out was a rare and special occasion. Not because we didn't have money but because my parents beleived in nice, home cooked family meals. Depsite the fact that my mom worked full time, she always made the time to make us dinner. Maybe Ms Weiler should make time to make her kids home cooked meals instead of dragging them to the sushi restaurant on a regular basis.

    April 2, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • Tracy

      your comment is irrelevant to the point. And use a little imagination. And it's inane on its face. "regulars" can mean often, like once a month, not three times a week.
      And what is it to you if they go out? How about I suggest that you use the internet too much. Stay off comment boards. Use that time to cook for yourself.

      April 2, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
  29. Sean in AZ

    Why is this still a story on CNN? Are they aware that there are so many more important things going on in the world? This dopey non-story is STILL front page on the CNN site. It has been there for WAY to long – get your priorities straight, and start reporting on actual news! Good Lord.

    April 2, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • Sam

      grow up

      April 2, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
      • Sean in AZ

        I love people that just say "grow up". I just means nothing. You have no actual response, and you know that I am correct. You know you have no real argument, or any way to counter my statement, so you come up with the very childish response of "grow up". What's even better is that my comment forced you to take a look inside yourself, and then you saw something you didn't like, especially as you realized you were nodding your head as you read this statement. I'm so glad I got to you. Have a nice night.

        April 2, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
        • Matt in CO

          Hey Sean. My son is low level autistic and I'm lucky he's so peaceful and quiet. He's never had a tantrum. Anyway, that's a bit of my background for you. On that note, the story was very good and meaningful to me. I learned a thing or two, could relate to it, etc etc. So now that I said this for your benefit. GROW UP. =) Also, if you don't like it, why did you read it in the first place? Quit bishin' about everything. =)

          April 2, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
        • peridot2

          This is the Eatocracy Section, lackwit. There are other sections on the front page of CNN for other news that interests you. If you can't tell the difference it's far more about your personal deficiencies than CNN.

          August 18, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
        • Sheogorath

          @ Sean: It bears repeating: grow up. Or to reduce myself to your level of puerility, Autistic people have a cognitive disability, what's your excuse?

          June 30, 2014 at 11:23 pm |
    • Liz

      As per the article "In observance of National Autism Awareness Month and April 2, World Autism Awareness Day"...

      April 2, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Liz

      P.S. Today is April 2

      April 2, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
  30. Drunken Dago Dad

    A kid throwing a temper tantrum is simply reminding their parents that it is time to administer an a55 whooping. I recommend the "Thor's Hammer"; Bring your clenched fist down on the top of Junior's head. If that doesn't work then it is time to move on to Ju Jitsu. The Rear Naked and Cross Collar chokes have keep my little angels on the straight and narrow for the past 7 years.

    5 across the eyes is cheaper and more effective than all of the shrinks and Ritilan that money can buy. A recent study showed that children who are beating regularly do better in school, have less weight issues, and have higher self esteem than children who have never been body slammed into thumb tacts.

    April 2, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • STF U Clown

      Trollllololololoolololol die

      April 2, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
    • ponyochikita

      hahahaha I'm right there with you THORS HAMMER haha

      April 2, 2014 at 8:08 pm |
    • Sheogorath

      @ Drunken Dago Dad: Are you really a dad? If you are, I'mma contact the Child Protective Services in your state. Your kids are clearly not safe around you.

      June 30, 2014 at 11:25 pm |
    • mplo

      You've learned Jiu Jitsu and you use it on your kids when they have temper tantrums? If that's really true, then you're not only misusing a skill that you learned, but you could get into a nasty, nasty legal bind and possibly become involved in a super-expensive civil lawsuit if somebody saw you doing that to one of your kids and reported it to the police and/or the Juvenile authorities. Without knowing you personally, I hope that really does come to pass. It would serve you exactly right!

      July 28, 2014 at 7:27 pm |
  31. mindcrime

    I find it ironic that the majority of functioning disabled people abhor the ADA, yet mothers of autistic/retarded children use it as a crutch constantly.

    It's not our job to accept your autistic child.

    This is the same country where a 3 year old can have PTSD and severe anxiety. That being said, I don't buy any of it, and autism is just a fancy way of saying "I hate having to control my retarded kid."

    April 2, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
    • Sean in AZ

      I am so glad there is finally a backlash against this nonsense. It's your kid, your genetic mistake – you deal with it. We actually have tests to weed these problems out of the gene pool. Why do I have to have my dinner out ruined by your cr@ppy genetic disaster? Take that noise to Chuck E Cheese – not to the nice restaurants where sane, normal people who can control themselves go to eat. Thank you.

      April 2, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
      • Peter

        If only we could eliminate narcissism and arrogance from the gene pool too. If only we had achieved that before your parents met.

        April 2, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
        • Sean in AZ

          Oooh – good one.

          April 2, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
      • Matt in CO

        Actually, you undereducated fool, you can't detect autism before a kid is born. But nice try at trying to sound intelligent. =)

        April 2, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
      • STF Up Clown

        Trollllololololoolololol die in a fire

        April 2, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
        • peridot2

          Yes, Sean, please do.

          August 18, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • CJ

      I teach my children that in America we accept differences because that is where our country's strength comes from !

      April 2, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
      • mindcrime

        No. No our strength does not come from diversity.

        When your child will contribute nothing, they can provide nothing.

        April 2, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
        • Matt in CO

          You should probably do a little research before opening your mouth. The stupidity you spew is making this comment section stink. There is a Professor in Colorado University.. has written numerous books and is quite famous. She is also autistic. ShtThFU and learn something, because you haven't posted a single useful thing here today. =)

          April 2, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
        • CJ

          My children are quite capable of contributing thank you very much, my oldest graduates college next year, my middle one is a gifted historian, considering a political career and my youngest is a gifted photographer with his work already displayed in several art shows. Spend some time around Spectrum people and you will soon realize they are quite amazing people with quite a lot to contribute!

          April 2, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
    • Tracy

      "I hate having to control my retarded kid". hmm, heard that from your mum a lot, did you?

      April 2, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • mplo

      That's a bunch of crap, mindcrime! Autism is not only real, but it's an innate, biologically-based neurological developmental disorder that an individual simply comes into the world with, and nobody knows why. This is not to say that some autistics can be taught to take some sort of responsibility for their bad behaviour and develop some self-control, but it takes much more patience.

      July 28, 2014 at 7:30 pm |
  32. Skull Fuqur

    If my kid was a retard, I'd drop it down the stairs and pretend it was an accident.

    April 2, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • Cid

      And now we all know that it's what you are, so what are your options? Throw yourself down the stairs?

      April 2, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
      • Skull Fuqur

        Are any of Mike Vik's dogs available for adoption?

        April 2, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
  33. Drunken Dago Dad

    All kids will sit down, shut up and eat their dinner if you pop them in the skull enough times.

    April 2, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • rainbow cadet

      Well said

      April 2, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  34. Melissa

    I have no doubt autism exists. However, I'm sick to death of hearing the constant diagnosis of autism every time a child is behaving like a brat. It's become like ADD and ADHD were in the 80's... a national excuse for not wanting to actually parent. Here's an idea... how about YOU be a parent, even if it's inconvenient and god forbid means actual work and spending time with your kids. Most of these diagnoses won't apply any longer.

    April 2, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • biggerdawg

      Your ignorance is showing. Maybe your mother should have spent more time with you although I can see why she chose bingo over you.

      April 2, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • Bart

      Melissa,
      I am going to chalk up your ignorant remark as well... being just plain ignorant. As the father of 4 children, the youngest of which (5 years old) is Austic, I can tell you that Autism is not just bad behaivor. Why don't you do a little medical research before making idiotic statements. Autism is a medical condition diagnosed by medical professionals. I have raised 3 neurotypical kids and know that bad behaivor does not even remotely compare to the pain an autistic child can endure while out in public. To you noises, lights and smells are just everyday things your brain processes. To an autistic person, they are like needles sticking them them all over with no escape in sight. Their brain cannot process all of them and they are stuck in the this world of pain. So the next time you see a kid "acting up" who the parents "claim" is autistic, maybe you ought to keep your ignorant opinions to yourself and do a little research on how autism is diagnosed and how painful it is for both the child and the family.

      April 2, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
      • Drunken Dago Dad

        No one is doing in god damn research to learn why your kid is a retard. I will complain to the manager and do my best to get you kicked out.

        April 2, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
        • Sheogorath

          @ Drunken Dago Dad: I have multiple Cognitive disabilities, and I assure you, you're far more of a retard than I am.

          June 30, 2014 at 11:30 pm |
      • Drunken Dago Dad

        A kid throwing a temper tantrum is simply reminding their parents that it is time to administer an a55 whooping. I recommend the "Thor's Hammer"; Bring your clenched fist down on the top of Junior's head. If that doesn't work then it is time to move on to Ju Jitsu. The Rear Naked and Cross Collar chokes have keep my little angels on the straight and narrow for the past 7 years.

        5 across the eyes is cheaper and more effective than all of the shrinks and Ritilan that money can buy. A recent study showed that children who are beating regularly do better in school, have less weight issues, and have higher self esteem than children who have never been body slammed into thumb tacts.

        April 2, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
      • rainbow cadet

        If your little brat has that much problems out in public, then leave the brat at home and let the rest of the world have peace and quiet. We didn't have your kid, YOU did.. YOU deal with it and don't force the rest of the world to put up with your child's issues.

        April 2, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
        • Matt in CO

          My son is low level autistic. He's rather peaceful and well behaved. But that's part of being low level on the autism scale. What this means for him is a difficulty in communicating and making eye contact. However, he is reading, writing, and doing simple math (addition/subtraction).. at 3 years old, in preschool. You really don't know what you're talking about when it comes to autism, so rather than look like an idiot, you probably just move on. =)

          April 2, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
        • J in ny

          Totally agree. Those types of children should not be allowed at a nice dining establishment. I once had one of them running around our table. I had the manager kick his and his family out so we could enjoy our dinner. Lots of other patrons were relieved as well.

          April 2, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
    • Sean in AZ

      See Melissa – here is the problem – no one wants to be a parent anymore – just look at all the comments railing against you for bringing up a valid point. This is why I firmly believe that kids should not be permitted in public (restaurants, planes, buses, trains, etc) until the age to 10, and I'm not kidding. By then, you (as the parent) will have had plenty of time to train your child, make them understand good behavior, figure out their bad habits and how to correct them. That way, by the time you do take them out to a nice restaurant, you will know that they are going to behave correctly, and if they don't, everyone will know it's because YOU are a $h!tty parent.

      April 2, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
      • LOL U Mad Bro

        Sean's upset his gene pool resulted in an ugly ba$$tard unable to pass on his genes. Too hilarious!

        April 2, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
        • Sheogorath

          @ LOL U Mad Bro: So does that mean Sean's gene pool might win the Darwin Award?

          June 30, 2014 at 11:31 pm |
    • Aman

      I am the parent of a 5 yr old with Autism. I will try to tell my story in as fewer paragraphs as possible. I hope this will change all your perceptions about Autism.
      10 years ago, I emigrated to USA to work here. Got married and had a beautiful boy 5 yrs ago.
      The first year was amazing. My son's growth was on track. He spoke single syllable words like car, ma, pa at the age of 8 months. Made good eye contact, gave a cute smile all the time. At the age of 15 months, I rememberd him saying the words like "Lets go out", "its raining" etc. The older home videos showed him speaking bigger sentences. We had a terrific social life with lot of friends and everyone loved my son.
      My personal diary entries around that time had this exact words "I am the happiest man in the world. I have a loving wife, beautiful son and I live in THE USA. I am so lucky".

      Then, at around 18 months, he started losing words. At around 20 months, stopped speaking totally.
      Let me list the events happened after 20 months point by point.
      1) He woke up screaming in the middle of the night, every single night. For the next 3 years, he slept for 3 hours at the max. He would sleep for an hour or so, wake up, scream for an hour and then sleep again and so on.
      2) He started banging his head on the walls and counter tops and other harder surfaces.
      3) He NEVER ate a single meal without throwing up.. Not just the meal, Every gulp he swallowed was followed by a Vomit. Me and my wife spent at least 2 hours per meal to serve him food. That was like a horror movie to us, three times a day.
      4) He used to get very crazy when we go outdoors (Restaurants, Malls, Library, friends house etc). He used to close his ears very tightly and scream, scream and scream. Later we learned that some sounds made him that crazy (thats our guess based on other parents inputs). The last time we ate at a restaurant as a family is 3 years ago. The last movie was 4 years ago.
      5) At nights, when he used to wake up screaming, he tore our skin with his nails and bit us hard on the hands and neck. I tried to escape all the time from him. But, my wife was not fortunate. It was extremely painful for me to watch my wife's wounds the next day morning.
      6) I remember that I used to wait to go to bathroom for an hour or so because if I moved from the place I sat at, my son would go mad and scream a lot.
      7) Our social life came to a sudden stop. Lost all the friends, each and every one. We have no family in US. So, we were all left alone.. extremely alone. My wife and I were living for each other and for my son.
      8) The doctors diagnosed him with Autism but they had no clue what caused it and what the right treatment is. We visited atleast 20 doctors with multiple specialities. No one had a clue. The best answer they had was ABA therapy, Occupational therapy, Speech therapy etc. So, we put him in all these therapies. and spent tens of thousands of dollars.

      And then, we started talking to parents with the same experiences and learnt that we are not alone. With their support, we made huge strides. We started bio-medical treatments, DAN treatments and other therapies.
      Our son improved a lot. Still has a lot of those horrible symptoms like sleepless, screaming, vomiting etc.. But, he is improving slowly.

      For the past 5 years, me and my wife dedicated our lives to teaching my son to sit, run, hold a pen, say Hi, Bye etc.. each of these actions took us 1 year to teach him. But, he did them finally.
      We have a lot of hope that he will get better and he will start speaking and by the grace of God, he will lead a normal life.

      So, dear friends, Please try to understand what autism is. And try not to hurt the already suffereing parents with your ignorance.

      April 2, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
      • barbara verterano

        BRAVO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! can you please tell me what bio medical and dan treatment are. thanks

        April 2, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
        • Aman

          Please send an email to urdnam at gmail

          April 3, 2013 at 1:30 am |
        • Sheogorath

          You don't want to know. It involves subjecting your child to a range of unethical 'treatments' that have killed kids in the past and will do so again as long as people keep going to DAN 'doctors' (I don't consider them to be doctors because they violate their Hippocratic Oaths on a daily basis).

          June 30, 2014 at 11:34 pm |
    • mindcrime

      Do you remember when being a parent meant you had to give up certain freedoms and pleasures?

      It's not our job to accept your autistic child, ever. It's _your_ job, as the parent, to say "You know what, I guess we can't bring the kid with us out to dinner."

      Imagine that, being a parent and having to give up a freedom.

      HIRE A BABYSITTER IF YOU HAVE AN AUTISTIC CHILD AND WANT TO GO OUT FOR DINNER.

      April 2, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
      • Matt in CO

        actually, I think my night out, with or without my son, would be much more pleasant if you just stayed home. Actually, lock your doors so you can't get out, throw away the keys, and really, just.. decompose after awhile for us. The world will be a much better place.

        April 2, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • BladeRunner

      Melissa... "Actual work"??? Really???? Just LOVE the sweeping generalization! We DO work hard. Most of us with challenged kids are constantly working our a55es off!!! ...just to get through what would be an ordinary event / ordinary day (for others)!! Just because our hard work does not immediately result in a payoff to your satisfaction does not give you the right to bloviate about how we (apparently) just sit on our butts and ignore our kids.

      April 3, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • mplo

      I disagree with you, Melissa. Autism, like ADD and ADHD, are innate, biologically-based neurological developmental disorders, and to dismiss them as sheer fiction and as an excuse that people make for bad behavior on the part of their kids is a lot of baloney. I don't buy it. It goes to show YOUR lack of empathy, sympathy and understanding, not to mention a total lack of diplomacy and sensitivity on your part.

      July 28, 2014 at 7:33 pm |
  35. Zena

    Just a different perspective – family 'restaurant' event is not a 'norm'. I am from Europe and restaurants are usually for adults. Yes, people bring kids too, but mainly, you do not go to a restaurant as a kid unless it is a special occasion (weeding or such).
    I grew up this way. I remember going to a restaurant with my parents as a kid on rare occasions, and I was bored as hell – I was not happy, and I was mis behaving, and I am not autistic.
    I think we put too much pressure on kids to 'behave' and 'fit in' to OUR life. Give them a break, autistic or not!

    April 2, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
    • Zena

      I meant to say 'wedding or such'!

      April 2, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • Drunken Dago Dad

      I bet you would have sat down and shut the fukk up if your father punched you in the skull enough times

      April 2, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
      • Sheogorath

        @ Drunken Dago Dad: I bet you would have retained the ability to sit down and STFU if your dad had punched you in the skull less often. Like fifty times less often..

        June 30, 2014 at 11:38 pm |
    • Shawn

      Can the people on this board please separate the issues here. We aren't talking about the whiny, self-entitled bratty children that could benefit from a good spanking and the clueless, inept parents that baby their children into not being able to deal with any kind of adversity (internet bullying, give me a break). I was the bullied nerdy kid in school and even then, suicide never crossed my mind. Weak, weak parents and their associated offspring are not the focus here.

      We are talking about autistic children. These children sense, perceive, and process events and stimuli differently. While that doesn't give the parents carte blanche to allow them to interrupt the lives of those around them for extended periods of time, it does, one should hope, inspire a little empathy from onlookers. These parents truly sacrifice for their children.

      In any case, when I'm eating, if your child acts up, you're going to get the benefit of the doubt either way. Parenting is work and takes patience. Good parents know when they see good parents having a rough time. We also know when we see lazy, self-absorbed, adult children playing house when they shouldn't.

      April 2, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
      • Sheogorath

        @ Shawn: Impossible. Most allistics don't have any empathy for those unlike them. Their brains are just wired the wrong way.

        June 30, 2014 at 11:40 pm |
    • Sean in AZ

      That truly sounds like heaven – I don't know why we don't do that here. Whiny kids and their cr@ppy parents consistently ruin everyone else's meal (or movie, flight, cruise, etc), and then act like we have to deal with their brat because they brought them into the world, somehow making them special and above good social etiquette.

      April 2, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
      • peridot2

        You show signs of Asperger's Syndrome. You should be evaluated for autism, Sean.

        August 18, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
        • Sheogorath

          @ peridot2: Actually, Sean shows signs of Narcissistic Personality Distorder, not Autism. Please don't conflate these two completely different conditions. Ali G's cousin has already done enough damage doing that.

          June 30, 2014 at 11:42 pm |
    • Sheogorath

      Well said, Zena. Thank you.

      June 30, 2014 at 11:36 pm |
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