Most parents of autistic children have had to face a situation where their child’s behavior drew unwanted attention.
Most autistic adults have been called, “rude” or “insensitive” at one time or another.
It is commonly believed by those outside of the autism spectrum, that autistic meltdowns can be stopped through self-discipline or punishment.
This is, simply, not true and not possible.
Autistic children and adults can have “naughty” moments, like anyone else, but the misbehavior usually occurs for a different reason than that of non-autistic people.
Both non-autistics and autistics can behave inappropriately due to physical pain or emotional distress.
Additionally, autistic people can easily become overstimulated by a change in routine, loud noises, bright lights or a crowded environment.
The difference is that neurotypical (non-autistic) children quickly learn that a stare, a look or a slap means, “Stop, or punishment will follow.”
The autistic child or adult either won’t see the signals to stop, or will simply add them to the already overwhelming set of stimuli that are causing the behavior in the first place. Punishment may even make it worse.
Autistic coping behaviors are often mistaken for rudeness or insensitivity, and the autistic adult will often avoid social situations, feeling that they just “can’t win” and will always feel unaccepted. In doing so, they give up on an opportunity to learn and make friends.
Most autistics are not capable of the bratty or insensitive behaviors of which they are often accused. Not reading social cues, makes it difficult to intentionally aggravate or emotionally blackmail a person; actions which require constant social decision making and accurate reading of social cues and body language.
The majority of times, inappropriate behaviors are a direct result of overstimulation or misunderstanding.
They are not looking to gain anything from the behavior (unless it is used to avoid going out in public at all). They have simply reached their limit, and the emotion cannot be released in any other way.
So it seems the supermarket Ph.D.s and amateur behavior analysts will just have to hang their shingles elsewhere.
Autistic people cannot just “cut it out”. Meltdowns will happen. Neurotypical sensitivity may be required.