WELLINGTON, Fla. - It's dinner time at the Rolle home and nine-year-old Spencer is banging his spoon on the table. It's the same thing that happens when his parents take him to a restaurant.
"People will often give you a face, 'the look,' we call it in the autism world," said his mother, Shirlene. "The look, 'Why don't you control your unruly child or can't you handle your kid?' without even a thought that, 'hey something's not quite right here.' "
Shirlene demonstrated at their home what a meal is like in hopes others will become more understanding of life with a child with autism.
"Take a pause before you pass judgment and assume 'here's a child who's not well behaved.' Ask yourself, 'Is something unusual here? Could this child have autism?' "
At first glance, Spencer can give the impression he's a typical nine-year-old. But soon it's noticeable that he acts much younger.
For example, while playing with his father, he would not step on the grass. His actions can seem, incomprehensible.
"We went to the jumpy house and some girl came to report him to me about what he was doing, and I'm thinking to myself, 'really, is that your biggest problem?' without verbalizing it. That's what I was feeling, so it gets old," said Shirlene.
She's concerned parents will tire of the looks and comments and stay home with their child, creating a feeling of being trapped inside their house.
Her advice to other parents
"Be aware and be understanding because I think as parents that's what we need people to do."
"We want acceptance more than anything else."