Erica Butler reports:
Going out to eat at a restaurant can be difficult for any family…and for a family with a child who has autism, dinner out can include rude stares and harsh insults.
Children diagnosed with autism often exhibit challenging behaviors, some of which can considered disruptive to those around them. Repetitive language and behaviors are classic signs of the disorder and can range in intensity.
“What Would You Do?” set up their cameras at the Chit Chat Diner in Hackensack, N.J., to see how bystanders would react when they saw a family with an autistic child being berated by our actor for the child’s behavior — something many parents of autistic children say they deal with on occasion.
According to the CDC, the diagnosis of autism is on the rise and an estimated one in every 88 children in the U.S. has an autism spectrum disorder. The month of April marks National Autism Awareness month.
Steps are being taken to open people’s minds to a disorder constantly misunderstood. In 2007 Alex Abend, a then teenager from New Jersey — where autism rates are higher than the national average — initiated a project in conjunction with T.G.I.Friday’s called Autism Family Night, encouraging families with autistic children to eat out at the restaurant chain without fear of being stigmatized. Having a brother with autism herself, she had witnessed the awkward stares and rude comments first-hand and was determined to make dinners out a better experience for families like hers.
Watch the whole scenario at the Chit Chat Diner play out on “What Would You Do?” TONIGHT at 9 p.m ET.