Autism is one of the most prevalent afflictions for North American children today, yet it is one of the least understood by the public at large. Most people, unless they've been close to autism, have no idea what it's like or how to deal with a child with autistic disorder.
At first, having an autistic child can be embarrassing for some parents. Autistic children do not have the same social skills as most of their peers. They are often prone to fits of anger and violence due to their inability to properly communicate. Oftentimes, these ‘tantrums’ occur in public.
Parental reactions to these outbursts may be seen as inappropriate or "stupid." After all, if the kid is just having a tantrum, why aren't you punishing him or her?
How to deal with rude people
So how do you deal with rude, insensitive, or even downright pushy and nosy people who make comments or try to intervene when you're dealing with your autistic child?
What you should do as a parent, is try to ignore the comments if possible. This may be easier said than done, but it falls upon you to be the voice of reason. In addition, you should always focus on providing a good example for your child. Remember, the well-being and safety of your child is paramount. Everything else is secondary.
Try to educate others
If you can't ignore the person or if they insist on "getting involved," then confront them with education and not by returning their rudeness. Sure, saying something like "Butt out, lady, it's none of your business" might be nice stress relief for you, but it isn't teaching her or your child the right things.
Start off by saying "My child is autistic, so I must deal with his/her tantrum differently than I would were this just a childish outburst." If you have time, explain that something triggers the outburst and it's not "not getting candy" or "wanting to go play," but is rooted instead in your child's frustration at not being able to communicate effectively or at having something disrupt his or her sense of well being, so punishment is not really the correct course of action.
Avoiding public confrontations
Of course, most parents of autistic children learn to just avoid the outbursts and public embarrassment that can come with them. To minimize disruptive behavior, think about the particular outing you have planned and what the worst case scenario would be and then plan for it. Take along a favorite toy or snack for placating your child.
Having friends or family along who can deal with unpleasant people while you deal with your child is always the best way to go.
Just realize that while autism is relatively common in our society today, it's still widely misunderstood. So be prepared to deal with insensitive and ignorant people who may react to your child in ways that aren't appropriate.