Autism Resource blog:
Life Skills

How to Go Out for Dinner When Your Child Has Autism

Nov 13, 2019
Jordan Brown
dinner plate
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First things first. These five tips will help you reduce restaurant anxiety for your family:

  1. Pick a time when there will be very few people (no lines/no waiting). I highly suggest between 2:30pm-4:00pm. Most restaurants are near empty at this time.
  2. Call ahead and order your food. Talk to the manager and explain what you are doing. You can say something like, “I’m practicing taking my child to a restaurant. Please have the food on the table when we get there.”
  3. This is key for “undoing” some of the negative experiences so they walk in, sit down and the food is already there. You know your child best, so pick their favorite food.
  4. If all is going well, try to make sure they get a little dessert. Don’t wait until their plate is empty. Instead, bring it 5-10 minutes after they sit down.
  5. Leave when the going is good. Don’t push it. If all is going well at this point simply say, “What a good dinner! We’re leaving in two minutes. Did you have a good time?” And then leave.

If all goes well, you have a “win” under your belt and a good foundation for future success. Keep everything the same for a couple of visits and then build in small “delays.” For instance, the next time you arrive, arrange it so that you “wait” one minute before the food arrives.We hope this helps!

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