We know that sometimes as parents it can be very difficult to take a child with autism to a restaurant with you. You might be worried that people may judge you if your child misbehaves. Below are some tips on how to plan ahead before going out to help keep your child successful and your trip enjoyable!
1.) Find places that are designated as autism friendly; that may not have as many people and are not as brightly lit or as loud.
2.) Keep your child with you at all times, this will make them feel safe knowing that you’re by them.
3.) Set the expectations ahead of time as to where you’re going and what they can or cannot do while you’re there.
4.) Let your child have a say in what you do, you can even show them pictures so they can help decide where you’re going.
5.) Use the bathroom before leaving the house so your child is comfortable.
6.) Bring an item for your child to play with that they enjoy while you wait for your food – this could be an iPad, sensory items, toys or even a snack.
7.) Look at the menu beforehand, make sure there is a food option for your child that they will eat.
8.) Make a reservation or call ahead so you don’t have to wait to be seated upon arrival.
9.) Ask for a seat in a quieter, less crowded section of the restaurant, this can be less over-stimulating for your child.
10.) Don’t be afraid to ask the server for help – if your child needs a lid for their cup, or a snack to come out quickly.
11.) Request the check as soon as your food arrives. This way, you will not have to wait long after your child is done eating.
12.) When your child behaves desirably reinforce good behavior with a snack or preferred item to play with. Make good behavior worthwhile so they will want to behave well in the future.
13.) Have your child keep a preferred item with them so they will be less likely to be upset if they cannot have something they want.
Post by Holli Novinger, BCaBA, Manager of our Indianapolis Area Locations