Something as simple as eating out with your child with autism can often be a stressful and anxiety inducing time for a family and child. Children can become easily over stimulated in the loud and sometimes busy and chaotic environment. Below, we have outlined what we hope will be some helpful and useful tips for taking your child with autism out to eat.
7 Tips for Eating Out with Your Child with Autism
If possible, go at a quiet time of day. Think early dinners around 4:00 or 5:00 pm if your families schedule allows it. Consider a late afternoon lunch if you are going out on the weekends. Early dinners and late lunches tend to be less busy for restaurants and will provide a quieter and less stimulating environment for your child.
Ask to not be seated next to the kitchen, bathrooms or main entrance to help minimize the number of people that are walking by your table. Additionally, if there are any large parties ask to be seated away from them.
Sit in the corner; this will make it so that there are only two walls that are open to sound.
If possible, ask for a booth instead of a table, this will help provide a more contained environment for your child.
Ask your server to give you a heads up if there will be any singing for a birthday at a table close by so that you can take your child outside for a few moments while they sing.
Should your child get overstimulated take your child outside and let him/her walk around for a few moments or go sit in the car so that they can calm down.
Try to keep your child occupied while at dinner. This can mean coloring, playing with an iPad, bringing a favorite toy – whatever your child enjoys!
Prospective parents visiting our center often ask the question, “how much is too much therapy?” At Lighthouse Autism Center, we specialize in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, an intensive type of therapy that is the only therapy for children with autism endorsed by the U.S. Surgeon General.
Children with autism need consistent, targeted, therapy to minimize skill gaps. Intensive therapy, such as ABA, has been shown to be incredibly effective in helping children and adults with autism live more fulfilled lives. Furthermore, the earlier children begin this therapy, the more effective the therapy will be.
If we think of ABA therapy in the same way we think about school for our children, we will see that the time spent is equal. The average child is in a classroom for 6 to 8 hours a day, five days a week. They are being taught and instructed in the classroom and those lessons are carried over at home. ABA therapy is the same. Most of our children spend eight hours each day at our centers where they are being taught life skills, school skills, and working on decreasing inappropriate or problem behaviors. These same skills are also put into practice in a home setting.
One of the most common questions parents ask when approaching the idea of therapy for a child with autism is “how long will my child need therapy?”
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer or one solution for a child with autism. Each child is unique in their skills and goals. This means that each child’s therapy plan and programs, and the length of that therapy plan, will vary.
However, on average, most children are enrolled at a center for two years. While a child may only be enrolled for two years, that does not mean they only need two years of therapy. At Lighthouse, the goal is to transition children back to a classroom setting where some form of therapy continues. This may mean having a classroom aid work with them or setting up an IEP with the school. Other children may not need any support at all.
Ultimately, there is no “cookie-cutter” approach when it comes to your child. At Lighthouse, we understand that and are dedicated to giving your child a personified experience that will help them to reach their fullest potential.
At Lighthouse Autism Center, we take great pride in the safety of our centers. Specifically, all of our employees receive two weeks of training before beginning therapy with a child, are First Aid and CPR certified, and most notable, are Crisis Prevention Intervention, or CPI, certified.
What is CPI?
CPI can best be described as nonviolent crisis intervention training designed to teach best practices for managing difficult situations and disruptive behaviors. Therapists learn how to identify at-risk individuals and use nonverbal and verbal techniques to defuse hostile behavior. This type of training not only ensures the utmost safety of the children at our centers, but also, the safety of our staff.
When a child is diagnosed with autism, it affects the entire family. While we often think of the parents or caregivers as those primarily affected, siblings are deeply affected as well. So, as parents, we must ask ourselves, what can we do to help both our child with autism as well as their brothers and sisters?
Educate and Set Expectations
It is important to make sure siblings understand the diagnosis of their brother and sister and what that means. Sit down and have a conversation with your child about autism and what that may mean for their relationship with their sibling (ie: Sam can’t express his wants or needs verbally so he may scream or Sam hears things differently than other people and that’s why we need to turn the music down, etc…). Be sure to have open communication with your child and be sure to let them know it’s ok to ask questions. Furthermore, having a sibling with autism can often mean having unexpected and upsetting reactions with others who may not understand their diagnosis. Prepare your child for different scenarios they may find themselves in with friends, schoolmates, or even strangers, and how to properly and respectfully react to things they may hear or experience.
Often times, so much time is dedicated to the child with autism and their needs, that the siblings can begin to feel neglected, or “left out.” Make sure you’re spending time with all of your children. Consider setting up a special one-on-one activity once a month with each child, or plan activities the entire family can do together. This will ultimately create a stronger family that is prepared to deal with the challenges faced by raising a child with autism.
Have a child in need of ABA or speech therapy? Contact LAC today!