Mission Statement: This blog was created to provide information on getting help for autism in general while focussing on locally available resources for families with newly diagnosed children in Belleville and Quinte area.

Please browse the blog at your leisure. You are welcome to comment on the posts. If you are a parent, an autism consultant, counselor, teacher with information on autism resources available in our area, please email your information to benziesangma@gmail.com. Your information will be added within 24 hours.

Local Autism Support Groups

Parents Engaging Autism Quinte (PEAQ), an autism parent support group, meets once a month on the first Tuesday of the month (no meetings in January, July and August) at Kerry's Place, 189 Victoria Avenue, Belleville at 6:30 to 8 p.m. If you have questions or suggestions for autism topics that are important to you please go to our FaceBook account and post your suggestions so that we can invite appropriate autism professionals to speak at these meetings. There won't be any meeting in December but we are taking local families supporting individuals with moderate to severe sensory challenges to the Christmas Event at the Children's Safety Village half an hour prior to the event being opened to the public.

Autism parent support group meeting hosted by Mental Health Agency, Trenton and Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC) meeting is on the Second Thursday of the month from 6 to 7:30 p.m. If you have require any further information please contact Marya Peters for more information at 613 392-2811 ext 3953 or email marya.p@trentonmfrc.ca

For info on Community Living Prince Edward County Parent Support group, contact Resource Consultants @ 613 476 6038

Central Hastings Autism Support Group meets in Madoc at the Recreation Centre. Contact Renee O’Hara, Family Resource & Support, 613-966-7413 or Tammy Kavanagh, Family Resource & Support, 613-332-3227

Strategies for challenging behaviours

Monday, April 23, 2012

Going out to a restaurant to eat with your ASD child

I recently watched the “What Would You Do?” ABC program segment on autism where a child with autism goes out to eat at a restaurant with his family. As usual, the people in the show are actors who are acting out a scenario, which is intended to test out the reactions of other people to an unusual series of behaviour from a child with autism in a public place. While the family of actors ate at one table, other real customers are seen enjoying their meals at other tables. When the child with autism first began to obsess about an item of food, demanding it louder and louder, people began to look over at the family. Some smiled indulgently and others continued to eat seemingly not bothered by the boy's behaviour although the noise level he was creating was enough to encroach on their air space. Finally, one irate man (later identified as another actor) objected loudly to the boy's behaviour asking his parents if they could not control him and suggesting to them to take him home. Other customers listening to the exchange began to stir, a lot of them looking over to the irate man giving him dirty looks. Finally, a woman spoke angrily told the man to shut up and another man began to yell at him across the room. The irate man decided enough's enough and threw down his napkin and walked out of the restaurant accompanied by the cheery applause of the customers inside the room. Of course, the tv crew came inside then and congratulated all the offended customers who decided to speak up for the family.
The truth, however, is ... the world outside is most of the time ugly and most of the time, the child with autism and his family would encounter people who get ugly when their leisure time gets disturbed by such incidents at restaurants. To be fair, some children, especially young ones are hard to control in public and they seem to take an absolute delight in rebelling against their parents despite the glowering looks and deep frowns they are rewarded with for that behaviour. The child with autism in the tv segment obviously displays other behaviours that clearly tell others who do not know him that he has disability of some sorts. In that way, the irate man's behaviour is boorish and comes from being an ignoramus. But parents of children with disability such as autism can't totally expect situations to turn out as positive as on this tv segment always. People are not always going to be kind because no matter how much one would like everyone on this planet to be aware of autism, it is going to take time to reach just a quarter of that ideal goal. The only thing they can do, that they can really take control of, is to invest in some preparation time before they go out to eat outside. For sheer fairness to the child himself/herself, they will need to clearly understand the child's needs right down to how much time he/she can endure in public space, understand what information they need to give the child to enable a clearly outlined transition time, what kind of food he might want and ask for, a sitting area where they might be shielded from the crowd etc. A visual social story answering all the questions he/she might have about the outing, how they'll get to where they will be eating, who will be there, how big it is, what the tables and chairs might look and feel like, what sounds he/she might hear at the restaurant, how long they might stay there etc.etc. He/she might have all these questions but may not be in a position to ask. So it falls on to the caregiver to make sure he/she has these questions answered as comprehensively as possible before doing something like eating out, which is throwing him off the routine right off the bat. Children with autism needs routine and structure and anything else derails them and causes anxiety which might manifest itself in unpleasant situations whether one likes it or not. So, in my opinion, the parents are also in a position to make the outcome a whole lot better themselves with better preparations for such an outing – for simple fairness to the child they love and ... never mind all those ignoramuses out there.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more Benzie. When we have Cameron with us he enjoys going to our favourite breakfast place. He knows what he wants before we arrive and also knows his boundaries when there. He likes to visit the washroom so that is his reward for being well behaved and eating all his breakfast. We find that familiar places and faces make for easier outings.


In it for the long haul...

I created this blog with my sincere wish that those of you reading this will want to share your own stories, both good and bad, what worked for you and what didn't and together, we can make it easier for the next family beginning their own journey of discovery. By posting what you know, where you have recieved certain services, who you have talked to, whose expertise you trust, how you navigated the school education services and by responding to questions in the discussion thread, know that you have helped a family in need. So, parents, experts in the field, counsellors, teachers and everyone who has any information on resources available, please feel free to post on this blog.