When you do any type of traveling, you will need to dine out. There are many obstacles that you might encounter while dining out with your special needs child. We’ve put together 7 quick and easy tips to hep you get through the dining out experience while at ease.
7 Tips for Dining Out
With Your Special Needs Child
Prepare yourself: Start with familiar and local establishments. See what works and what doesn’t work with your child. If your child is having a stressful time, you have a great opportunity to pack up and head back home where your child is more comfortable. You can keep trying until the level of uncertainty and stress has dissipated.
Set expectations before you arrive. Instruct your child as to what is the right and wrong way to behave while dining out. This gives your child a clear indication as to what is acceptable behavior. If you notice your child diverting from those expectations, reaffirm what is expected.
Be prepared for should your child become anxious. Always be prepared for those instances should your child become anxious. To help put your child at ease, you can pack small toys or soothing items. Be sure to use a calming tone when speaking as children can pick up on the stress of their parent.
Be adventurous. Use the dining out experience as a tool to test out new foods your child would not normally eat. While vacationing, it is nice to check out local family restaurants and use it as an opportunity to explore new cuisines.
You know what the typical peak dining times are so be sure to arrive before the crowds. By arriving during non-peak hours, the noise level is lower and there are less people to contend with making your dining experience more pleasurable.
Know whether or not you prefer a chair vs. booth and know whether or not it makes a difference. If the restaurant doesn’t have your preferred table available ask how long the wait will be and explain to them the reason why you need to have a booth or chair. They are usually very accommodating to your needs when they know what they are.
You want to have a good experience for yourself and your child so know when it is time to leave. You know your child best. If you sense that it is starting to go down hill, it’s probably a good time to ask for the check. Take cue’s from your child and act upon them as you see fit so that everyone has a pleasant experience.
More importantly, have a good time! Dining out doesn’t have to be stressful so test out the waters before your scheduled vacation and you shouldn’t have any worries while you’re away.