Dining out with autistic children

There was an article from Time magazine that I found that discussed how one girl decided to help out her autistic brother by reaching out to the restaurant community to ask for an Autistic Family Night Out. I wish we had something like that around here. Not that Casey has extremely difficult behaviors, but when he goes into meltdown mode over something that he had his heart set on, or if something didn’t go the way he thought it was supposed to, it would be nice to have supportive people around instead of people giving us the evil eye and making comments like “why can’t they be better parents?”

Take for example our weekend this weekend. Both of our boys have taken a huge liking to Garfield the cartoon cat. They have found my old cartoon collection books of Garfield and have been poring over them, laughing at all of the old comic strips. So, their new obsession is to eat like Garfield. Casey wanted lasagna for dinner on Saturday when we were out at a restaurant. Unfortunately, there was no lasagna on the kids’ menu, and we had to prepare Casey for that. We said that we would ask the waitress if we could order a kid-sized portion of lasagna, and she said she would ask. Again, we had to prep Casey for the possible answer of “no”, and had to have an alternate order plan, so we chose spaghetti and meatballs. When the “no” answer came, the tears came soon after.

Now, for those of you who don’t understand what it’s like to have judging eyes on you, let me tell you it is horrible. Luckily, at this restaurant, it didn’t happen. One of the waitresses came over and asked us how old the boys were, and we told them. So, they told us that the boys could order the buffet at the kids’ price, and guess what…. lasagna was on the buffet. Problem solved!

So, if only more people were understanding like in this Time magazine article, and in the restaurant that we were in, maybe going out to restaurants won’t be such a heartwrenching ordeal for many families with autistic children.


One response

  1. It is so amazing how people automatically assume if a child is crying the parent is doing a bad job. I can appreciate that people go to a restaurant to relax (I would imagine) so the sound of a screaming child can be quite annoying. I always try to give the benifit of the doubt.

    With Amelia, I haven’t had too many instances, she is only 6 months after all. But I have had to remove her from Mass twice (once because she fell!) for her making too much noise (IMO). We have some parishiners whose small children are allowed to run around in the aisles before mom/dad/caregiver will try to do anything about it. I think the important part is for the parent to at least try to do /something/, which so many do not. Obviously you are trying the best you can.

    That’s another thing, we outsiders have no idea what the parent is going thru’. Perhaps this dinner has been scheduled with family members only seen occasionally and can’t be missed no matter how tired (and therefore cranky) the child is; or, as in your case, the child may be special needs.

    I could keep ranting on about this, so I’d better stop before I get too into it. 🙂

    God Bless!

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