just encountered this tonight in a restaurant- my 3 years old autistic daughter was shouting and banging the table twice in the restaurant. While I was still busy try to calm her down by hugging her, an old couple left the restaurant and the old man look at my girl and said ‘what’s wrong with her, we are leaving the restaurant because of her!’ I looked at him and said ‘ she is autistic!’’ The man didn’t change his look and still angry and left the restaurant. I feel so sad.
May I get some advice - in this situation, how would you respond? Shall we just stay at home all time with our autistic children?
Oh, I remember this... lol. This is a common phenomena amongst autistic families. [ for short answer skip to the text in bold]
I went through stages, from embarrassment to anger depending at what stage of daughter's diagnosis I was. I think the awkwardness came from mixed emotions and the transitional state of my concept of autism. When my daughter was having embarrassing tantrums as a toddler, I felt very challenged in terms of dealing with the situation myself, so reactions from others were just compounding it. After learning more about the diagnosis I completely re-framed my thinking about mental health and conditions, about disability, about equality. Once I settled into my views and concepts, it became easier to think about handling these situations in a structured way.
Whatever you reaction, don't castigate yourself, your emotions are valid, you are going through a learning process in which to be fair there is hardly any support for parents with issues like this.
With hindsight, can I conceptualise this?
I would start from thinking to myself that my daughter has every right to be in the restaurant and enjoy this shared family time.
I would think that her reactions arise from sensory issues and other autistic challenges because these are not adequately addressed.
I would also think that some of her behaviour is just a toddler's behaviour.
I would think that if as a parent of a 3 years old I knew everything that needs to be done to facilitate a relaxing meltdown free time at a restaurant with a toddler, I would act on that.
If I knew. But if I don't, I just do my best.
Remembering that as a parent of my first toddler I felt quite clueless and bewildered and far from knowing everything that 'should be done'.
I remember other toddlers having tantrums and parents being helpless and bewildered, so maybe this is what being a new parent really is.
This is what a family restaurant is - there are toddlers and toddlers have tantrums and parents deal with that to the best of their ability. Just like babies cry, you would not demand the parents to 'shut up' their babies, would you?
Now that I know my toddler is autistic and I learned as much as I managed to about preventing difficulties and managing going-out situations, and I apply to the best of my ability in the difficult situation, this is what I practically and ethically can be expected to do.
If my toddler breaks or really hurts other people in some specific way I would apologise and deal with that.
But if other people are 'inconvenienced' by the sheer presence of my disabled child in a public space which it is her full human right to attend on the par with others...
This is really tough luck for them.
We are a society that is tolerant and humanistic in promoting equality, dignity and tolerance of our differences and this includes cross generational differences and cross neurological differences and this is a shared opportunity to learn from each other.
Demonstrating to you their displeasure is really rude attention seeking and a sense of entitlement that is not in keeping with the reality of modern life: they are not entitled to toddler free spaces, certainly not in that restaurant.
I would never say this: [if old farts can't handle toddlers, they should stay at home]
I think you should feel sorry for people like that. We are living in the 21st Century now. How about av little harmony? If they don't want to be in a family place they should go somewhere else.
NAS50657 said:Hi all,just encountered this tonight in a restaurant- my 3 years old autistic daughter was shouting and banging the table twice in the restaurant. While I was still busy try to calm her down by hugging her, an old couple left the restaurant and the old man look at my girl and said ‘what’s wrong with her, we are leaving the restaurant because of her!’ I looked at him and said ‘ she is autistic!’’ The man didn’t change his look and still angry and left the restaurant. I feel so sad. May I get some advice - in this situation, how would you respond? Shall we just stay at home all time with our autistic children?thanks!
If I were in such a situation, such as I have been as a waiter in restaurants, and on occasion as a punter / customer out with family and friends etcetera ~ the basic and fundamental rule for people who do not want to be disturbed by young children at restaurants; is not to book or attend before evening service when families are more catered for.
As far as your experience goes, I would say nothing is wrong with being three years old or autistic either.
Thanks for your comments! Made me feel so much better! I find not many ppl aware about what autism is all about, the child is not being naughty but just sensory!
Yeah, I feel sorry for them. Almost wanted to tell them shame on you!
Thanks. I was hoping the restaurant owner will say something for us but he didn’t, well, I don’t blame him.
There's an episode of BBCs "Extras" that might cheer you up. I think it's series 2 episode 3 where Andy lands in hot water over a similar situation in a restaurant complaining about a young man being noisy and it turns out the boy has Downs Syndrome. The mother is not best pleased, then the tabloids find out and start roasting Andy's reputation. It's a good one.