Sunday, February 16, 2014

First Valentine's Day Dinner with Autism .. A second time mentioned

Valentine's Day is a holiday full of dinner,flowers,candy, romance,sitters, "I love You", a special girl, restaurant reservations, and experiences that  meltdowns to more money spent then what needs to be and a second  phone call with a mention of someone your with leading to this love story full of words and smiles...

My dinner date on Valentine's Date with one special little girl . .We wanted to spread our love and regardless of autism and experience going out on one of the busiest restaurant holidays of the year.

The experience included two times of calling the restaurant on the way first time called told the wait was 20 minutes and no call aheads being made, no reservations being taken, four times of going to the restroom, a booth by the door in the bar,no pre busing, ketchup bottle empty, burning my mouth on the appetizers, over cooked fries, no cheese on her burger, no WI-fii, and soup that was sub par.

Many of these experiences  people would complain about .. . but some of those were accommodations being made since with autism was mentioned the second time around. ...

The  second  time calling on the way to the restaurant to check to see what the wait time was  on my hands free device these words came out of my mouth , "My daughter has autism".  There was hesitation in my voice.  Thinking does this need to be said.  I then added, " I am concerned that my daughter will have a meltdown waiting and effect others night special night."  My daughter typically doesn't have meltdown in restaurants consistently.  Although, knowing this restaurant was somewhere we had been to just three times and sat in different booths in the restaurant.

Here is the response that was said by a friendly and chipper hostess the second time around.

 "We are don't take reservations and not taking any more call aheads because of the holiday.  The wait is about 15 minutes but ..  we will get you in when you get here. "Name, please". "See you soon". 

I quickly gave her my name and how many people in my party and hung up.  After I hung up I thought of all the things I should have asked, "Can we get a booth please?" 
"Do you have WII-Fii?

 I think I was in  shock and feeling guilty using those words of "with autism". I was with my special girl not autism but some reason the with had mattered.

As we drove up the parking lot was full.  I thought to myself maybe this was a bad idea.  You see you never know what autism will bring you and when it will come to meltdown into an experience you will never forget.  We searched for a parking spot.  I had almost forgotten we had a place card.  We hardly ever use the placecard unless I'm the sole person in the car (which happens many times), there are several place card spots available, lot it full, it's icy outside, and a place we do not go consistency on a regular basis. Again, hesitation using this placecard for parking wondering if there is others who need this accommodation more than us. It took the second time going around just as the second phone call to drive into the front of the lot and accept this accommodation.

My daughter jumped out of the car SMILING like she wasn't effected by a permanent disabling condition. This is what I loved about her.  She is so full of life.  In the car was her talker it needed to be prompted.  for her to bring it today.  Again, out of my mouth, "Grab you talker" She grabbed it and held my hand. Another accommodation that she needed to communicate her wants and needs especially used when she wants food.  It also was something that would be recognized to some that she wasn't just a little happy little girl jumping out of the car with nothing wrong with her but had a condition.

This was also a holiday in which couples spent to celebrate love.  This restaurant would not typically be thought as a couples romantic restaurant but one that shared many special first I'm sure for others.  It was my daughter's first on our first occasion that we split a hamburger.  It was also most likely be our last since she loves cheeseburgers. 

We entered the restaurant and many people were sitting waiting with very little room to sit down and wait for two people along with the TWO IPADS we brought in and talker.  We approached the hostess.  I wanted to ask her if she was the one that was so kind to accommodate us.

The hostess asked, "Name?"
I responded, "Irene party of 2".  I wondered if on their tablet that they took reservations did it say, " with autism".
The hostess checked us in and responded, "We got you  checked in."
I scanned the waiting room for a seat for us to both sit along with our handfuls of accommodations.
There was no where that I thought we fit in . The  was no way the cute couples would want  to sit next to an energetic, jargon of sounds, full of emotions, and her accommodations in the waiting room. Again,  I took a second look and decided for us to sit down next to a couple in the waiting room.  

The excitement then took place.  My daughter pointed to her bottom.  Oh, no we were going to have a poop accident with no extra clothes.  I quickly made my way up to the host stand,  I felt like I was yelling and said, " My daughter needs to go to the bathroom in case we are going to get called I wanted to let you know".  

The hostess said, "Oh, okay." Probably wondering why it was a state of emergency sounded request.  The other hostess said, " We are getting ready to call them".  In my mind hesitation set in .. She need's to go and when she has to go she has to go.  I looked at my daughter and she smiled.  I knew she could wait with this nonverbal beautiful expression. 

We waited no more than 4 minutes from when we walked in and to some parents who are with someone would have thought this was a lifetime.  Nope.  Not for us.  It was a special accommodation for a special girl.

SMILES from the waitress and staff every time we went to the restroom all the way across the restaurant, the waitress asking me if daughter wanted something to drink and me asking my daughter "What do you want to drink"? Her response with her talker, "POP". The waitress smiled with empathy and happiness. A booth at the front of the restaurant in case we needed a quick get away and to in case my daughter had a behavior that was not needed to be experienced at the time was a accommodation that was given for the with we were with .. 

Something that I didn't mention is this was  the first time and rarely  mentioned to restaurants because my belief is for my daughter  to have experiences like any other child not effected. This time it was mentioned because their was a concern that my daughter would have a meltdown waiting and effect other during their special evening.

This experience did not have other asking her to quite down, free checks given, managers coming to the table, or being waited on hand and foot.  This experience was full of simple accommodation because of something that was mentioned
the second time around knowing that all would have a experience of autism that they would love and want to love

So, when going into the community never hesitate about a  mention of, "My child has autism". Understand that people understand about accommodations that need to be made so we can all enjoy the experience an individual should have with autism and for themselves to see and feel love.

Take a second to understand that the with is something that they are with and not whom they are...

My first Valentine date with my daughter with a second mention that mattered with WORDS that were said. My daughter and autism said, " I LOVE YOU" that night.  Not words but behaviors and feelings that spread to others with smiles.

Thank you for all the necessary accommodations that were made for us to share love and a dinner that we loved.

First Valentine's Day Dinner Date with my daughter.  A plus one of autism. And a second time mentioned that accommodated what mattered. . LOVE  

Use the WORDS when they matter and a experience will be given that will be loved by all:)