My son is an amazing child with Autism. His 'differences' are not always obvious if we are just passing by and although we have been very lucky because he so LOVES DW we are very much aware of his sensory, emotional and social issues and have tried very hard to accommodate them on vacation. It has taken years to have a thick enough skin and be able to advocate well enough for my son - I DO apologize for any 'akward' moments another may face but I am usually concentrating on my child and his immediate needs. I have had to remove him from certain areas or hold him as best I can until he can be helped to calm down. It happens so quickly sometimes and comes from almost 'out of the blue' that it can be mind-boggling to anyone who has never experienced this. I promise we are doing all we can with Applied Behavioral Therapy, Occupational Therapy, IEP, supplements and in my son's case anti-seizure medication as well as daily planning and extreme vacation planning. Please remember there are many children who have invisible disabilities and although we have positive reinforcement and consequences for his actions it is a busy road indeed. We are there to enjoy our vacation and will certainly 'parent' our children, I promise - if something offends you that my children do, please make me aware of it and I WILL make sure to take care of it as it is my responsibility as the parent of my child - we've had the 'he needs an a-whuppin' moments and I know that will not CURE his Autism, believe me it HURTS when people point us out and make snide comments and I am the first to pass on any info I can about Autism. Thank you for being a friend to someone with Autism.
Thank you for posting this, mousireid. I have a fourteen-year-old with Asperger's (an autistic spectrum disorder) and he still has meltdowns. You would not know he's on the spectrum just by looking at him or even in casual conversation. There have been times when I have just wanted to melt into the ground because of the looks we get sometimes. Please be aware that roughly 1 in 100 children are affected by autism, many of whom are on the end of the spectrum which allows them to function to a degree that their disability is not readily apparent to the casual observer. To put that in perspective, in 2009 there were 17.2 million visitors to Magic Kingdom. If half of those were children Magic Kingdom may have seen around 86,000 children on the spectrum last year.
All this to say, please try to remember that you really have no clue as to what challenges the family your judging deals with irl. I try my best to look out for the signals that my son is struggling to maintain and diffuse situations as best I can when I've missed the earlier signals. I have also spent many a meal outside in the car with my son so he would not disrupt the rest of the restaurant, gone home early from an event (or a park) when he's reached the tipping point, apologized for my son when he's been disruptive and make sure I'm staying on top of his tendency to fidget and want to find something to do with his hands. I'm human though and sometimes I miss something. And as mousireid said so well, no amount of 'whuppin' in his earlier years would have made him less autistic.