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 upload a report to CNN iReport's new assignment: Living with autism: Out in public.
Some comments have been edited and condensed for clarity.