by Nancy J Price, SheKnows.com
Restaurants are typically crowded and noisy -- that's par for the course. But as a parent, you know that some kids have a really hard time with all the sounds, movement, smells and sights -- and that goes doubly if your child has autism or certain other special needs.
Apart from obviously trying to avoid dining out altogether if this is a big problem for your child, you will want to do what you can to at least minimize the worst of these issues. Here are some suggestions to make meals out a cool and calm experience for everyone!
- Plan to visit at a quiet time and ask to be seated away from other tables -- particularly those with parties or groups.
- Try not to sit right by the bathrooms, kitchen or main entryway, as this will mean a constant parade of people by the table.
- Sit in a corner so you only have two walls open to sound.
- At your table, seat your child where he will be least disturbed: may be with his back to the people milling around, or on the opposite side of the table so he doesn't have to be near the patrons and servers walking by.
- Ask for high-backed booths when available, instead of tables. (Even regular booths may be preferable)
- Ask your server to please warn you before they sing a rousing rendition of a birthday song for another table, so maybe you can take your child outside for a few minutes.
- If your child can tolerate earplugs, always have some handy.
- Take your child for a walk outside or go sit in the car if things get too stimulating. (You might want to ask for a table near the door for just this reason.)
- Try to keep your child occupied: bring pen and paper, books, or even a "for restaurant-times only" toy.
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