This article hits close to home for all families affected autism. I tell people that I don't apologize for anything my son does, but every situation is a challenge. The masses are, for the most part, completely unaware that an autistic child is in their midst. That is until the child decide to yell at the top of his lungs and sprint through the mall, or store, or McDonalds, or some other public place.
One one particular occasion 4 years ago, we were visiting with the inlaws in Florida during Christmas. Unlike the huge crowds of the Maryland and Virginia malls, this mall was busy but not a mad house. Nonetheless, our John had had enough of walking, standing, and basically being bored with shopping. We were in a Radio Shack, and hurrying to get done with the purchase and get our the vehicle, John decided to throw a tantrum. Mind you, he is 5'9" and about 200 lbs, 16 years old at the time. He screamed and ran back and forth in this semi-crowded mall. People were scattering as if a mad man was on the loose. Then he decided to bang on the store windows.
Now, to us, he was being his normal self. But, to strangers, this was pandmonia, and it was one year after 9/11. Everyone was looking, and some fled, I guess not really knowing what was going on. We managed to make it out of the mall and back to the inlaws house. We're probably lucky that the police did not stop us or that someone didn't call them.
Please read the entire article at Dealing With Autism In Public