21 February, 2006

The Dinner Adventure

For most families with an Autistic child, going out to eat can be a real challenge. This is both because of very unique eating patterns and issues with sitting and waiting for food. Not being willing to let that the challenges stand in our way, my wife and I decided that tonight we would venture out to a regular feeding hole, El Toritos. While we have gone there MANY times, each time it is somewhat of an adventure with Connor.

The greatest problem we run into is that Connor is willing to go to only two placed for dinner. The first is John's Incredible Pizza, a place that offers a pizza buffet and an arcade with ticket yielding games... some what like Chuck E. Cheese. The second place Conner willingly goes for dinner is McDonalds. Any other options need a great deal of coercion and some whining on Connor's part. Some times the reaction can be so bad that it simply stops us from going. This time, I decided to take a unique tact. I sat down with him and explained that he would be able to get pizza and french fries at El Toritos and that this was some place that Mom and Dad wanted to go. With a little whining, I was able to get Connor to be put on his shoes and head out the door.

Things were REALLY starting to look good for this trip. While Connor already showed signs of being over stimulated, his hand flapping was still at a minimum and he was still controllable. We arrived at the restaurant and were immediately seated (always a positive). While my wife and I looked at the menu, trouble started to brew. Connor realized that his menu had the same puzzles as last time. A little agitated, he started to whine about having already completed the puzzles and insisting that his brother trade with him. Luckily Aiden was more than willing to trade menus. Once a gain, our fortune took a turn for the worse when then new menu Connor trade for was in reality only half of the menu. Some how, the second page was missing.

Connor just looked at the menu for a moment, and I could see that he was trying to figure out what had happened to the other half and how he should react to it. Immediately, I jumped up and got a replacement from the hostess that seated us. I smiled to myself, happy that I had averted this disaster.

Soon enough, it was time to order: First my wife, then myself and finally the boys. I must have turned as white as a sheet when the server responded to Connor's order "We are out of Pizza". Connor just sat there and looked at the server. I could see him thinking "No, you aren't out of pizza, I just ordered it." Connor was starting to get very agitated. Hoping that my luck in defusing his melt downs from earlier was still in effect, I quickly convinced Connor to change his order. I was amazed that he agreed to this, as he has NEVER ordered anything different. None he less, he went along when I ordered him a quesedia. The remainder of the dinner went without significant events, and that was truly amazing.


Anonymous Sandrissimo said...

Hi Brian,

I really like your blog, I haven't read it all, but sometimes your adventures are so similar to mine...

My son got diagnosed with autism when he was 6 years old. We had seen some really strange behaviour before that time, but my ex-husband always considered that normal, as it was like he had been as a child.

It was after the divorce when my new partner got into our lives that he asked me to let my son be tested. He said that we couldn't really help him, until we knew what was causing this sometimes weird behaviour.

One of the things we had trouble with was dining out. As my ex-husband also didn't like to eat out, these events were limited to Mc-Donalds or other hamburger restaurants and if I was really lucky, Pizza Hut. He hated having to wait for his food, things like that.

Therefor my sons were used to certain places and my eldest would know that he would get what he had ordered. He would be very happy in the restaurant, as it completely lived up to his expectations.

When my new partner came into our lives, we went to all other places, like me, he really likes to eat out, it doesn't have to be fancy, we just enjoy doing it.

At that time we didn't know that, with doing that, we shattered the world of my eldest son.

So one time, at IKEA we decided that we would eat in their restaurant. They have childrens menu's that are similar to hamburger restaurants.

My son ordered the thing he always (and stil) orders, chickennuggets with fries and fanta.

We installed the kids at a table and went to get the meals. As we placed his meal before him, he started crying hysterically!

We didn't have a clue why and everybody in the restaurant started staring at us.

Finally, he was calm enough to form words and he said :
"These nuggets are darker brown than the ones at the Quick!!!" (that's a place like Mc-Donalds in Belgium)

Because of the difference in colour, he didn't want te eat these nuggets, although they taste about the same!

Later when he was diagnosed, we understood that reaction, but at that time, we just couldn't understand the hystarical outburst...

Now we can take him and his brother almost anywhere. We make sure they take along a book or a videogame so they don't get bored sitting at the table for a whole time. And although his favourite meal stil is nuggets with fanta, he has broadend his horizons and settles for other things now...


08 December, 2006 06:59  

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