I want to share the experience that my husband, 7 year old autistic sister and I had today at the Chili’s location in Midvale, UT.
Arianna, my little sister, didn’t waste any time when our waitress, Lauren, greeted us at our table. Arianna promptly ordered her cheeseburger with pickles, french fries, and chocolate milk before Lauren could even take our drink order. Lauren smiled and told Arianna, “Okay! I’ll be right back with your chocolate milk!”.
When we got our food I was wondering why Arianna wouldn’t touch her cheeseburger, but was going to town on her french fries. I asked her, “Arianna are you going to eat your cheeseburger?” She calmly said, “No, I don’t want it.”
Cheeseburgers, or ‘Krabby Patties’ as we sometimes call them, are her FAVORITE! So this behavior was VERY strange. So I asked her, “Why don’t you want it?”. She replied, “It’s broken. I need another one thats fixed.” Then it dawned on me why she wasn’t eating it. It’s because it was cut in half.
Being a child with autism, she has to have certain things in a particular order at all times. One slight change in her routine can change the course of the day instantly.
When Lauren came back to check on us, I asked if we could order another cheeseburger and just add it to our check. She had a concerned look on her face so I explained that Arianna has autism, and that in her mind, because the cheeseburger was cut in half, she thinks its broken and can’t eat it. I told Lauren I knew it sounded silly, but if we could just order an additional one we will gladly pay for it because there was nothing wrong with the one that was originally brought out.
Lauren was so sweet and just smiled and went along with Arianna, telling her “I brought you a broken cheeseburger?! You know what, I’ll have them cook you a new one!” I loved this because rather than just taking it from the table, she actually TOLD Arianna what she was doing. While this seems insignificant, by her telling Arianna what she was doing, we avoided a melt down.
The manager, Bradley Cottermole, then came to our table, kneeled down, and said to Arianna, “I heard we gave you a broken cheeseburger! I am so sorry about that! We are making you a brand new one that isn’t broken, with pickles! I’ll bring you some french fries to munch on while you’re waiting, ok?”
A couple of minutes later, Lauren arrived back at our table with cheeseburger #2. Arianna said, “OH FANK YOU! You fixded my cheeseburger!”
When Lauren walked away, Arianna just sat there for a second and looked at her new burger. She looked like so deep in thought….just staring at it….then she let out a big ”OH I missed you!!” and started kissing the burger over and over again.
I showed Lauren this picture and said, “I think we glorified the cheeseburger too much!” She busted up laughing, and asked if she could go show her manager. She came back a minute later and said she showed everyone in the back kitchen area too, and that it made them all laugh and smile.
I was so touched by this experience. Especially since I know people who have been asked to leave restaurants when their child with autism is being disruptive. I expected a few different things with this scenario based on past experiences, but I did NOT expect such kind and compassionate mannerisms from Lauren and Bradley. Everyone, from the hostess to the chef, played a role in what most people would think isn’t a big deal. But this entirely shaped how the rest of our day would go.
I know…a cheeseburger cut in half literally could make or break our day. In this case thanks to the professionalism of the crew in Midvale, it made our day. And I’m sure Arianna brightened up at least one of the employees days with her silly little personality. Thank you.
DIY Inspiration: Harry Potter’s “The Tale of the Three Brothers” painted by Liz Kirkham from her blog When Boredom Strikes here. I was looking for this picture that I had reblogged from someone else on Tumblr and realized the source was Pinterest (NO!). So I found the original source. Liz Kirkham painted the entire chapter of “The Tale of Three Brothers” from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Go to the link for really high resolution photos of her process. *In the comments Liz Kirkham said that a permanent marker may have worked better than a paintbrush. She wrote, “I used a can of really old black paint and a crummy paintbrush.”
Therapy Idea? Uh… no not really. Just because it’s Saturday. And it’s the Deathly Hallows. :)
* If you’re gonna stretch it up to a therapy idea though, why not make it as a group activity. Each kid / client can write a sentence on the wall. Not necessarily from Harry Potter but can be a personal statement. Watch the wall get filled up by scribblings from each client and one day, maybe they can look back and say, “Hey, I wrote that sentence a few years ago!”
Activity Characteristics: - very simple, a bit repetitive, quick, and concrete end product that is generally easy to do
Targets - fine motor skills (mostly tripod grasp and some in-hand manipulation skills) - creativity, planning & organization
Materials - ribbon, items from the hardware store like nuts, bolts, etc.
Adaptations: To make the ribbon easier to insert into the holes, tape can be used to gather the ends like an aglet (! Am I using that word right? Thank you Phineas & Ferb!) of a shoelace tip. See the silver ribbon?
Sesame Street in Israel (Rechov Sumsum) is the first in the Sesame Street family to include a puppet who uses a wheelchair. This is in part due to a global partnership between an Israeli charity and Sesame Street Workshop to further the inclusion of people with disabilities across the world!
“We’re Not Here For Your Inspiration”- ABC’s Stella Young
That’s the thing about those kids in the inspiration porn pictures too - they’re not doing anything their peers don’t do. We all learn how to use the bodies we’re born with, or learn to use them in an adjusted state, whether those bodies are considered disabled or not.
Fausto Podavini: “People with dementia, their families and friends are affected on personal, emotional, financial and social levels. Lack of awareness is a global problem. A proper understanding of the societal costs of dementia, and how these impact upon families, health and social care services and governments may help to address this problem.”
Routes can be programmed into the cane, that as the person with the cane walks, it shows arrows on where to go
Humidity and temperature sensor
Heart rate sensor
Pinpoint the location of a person. Or, rather, locate a lost cane. (Maybe a future feature can be an alarm system when the cane is too far from the owner. Some of my elderly patients have the tendency to either leave it behind or forget where they placed it. Fujitsu, come talk to me for ideas! Haha!)
It’s like when the ipad first came out. It was this technologically advanced thing that we previously did not even think existed. Now, everyone has to have an iPad, or at the very least, a tablet. It’s the same thing with this someday. I can imagine myself seriously rocking a GPS cane when I’m 80. Haha!