Wednesday 9 August 2017

Tips to take our autistic kids to dinner

Kids eating out

It's not that we've never been out to dinner with our family before.  It's more that it tends to have been a last resort.  We are on holiday and think it's too much for David to simply live on the toast we can make in our holiday apartment for two weeks.  We have somehow run out of food on holiday.  Or some other bizarre reason.

Before we had kids we used to eat out and get great takeaways.  Anniversaries and birthdays are often still celebrated with my other half in a restaurant.  I loved the Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental, London.  And our evening at Le 1947  at the Cheval Blanc in Courcheval was amazing. We may not be at the point of fine dining but I'd like to take our kids our to dinner more often.

So what's the problem?

Well, our kids aren't naturally set up for dining out. Both our boys are autistic. David is pre-verbal and Anthony also has ADHD.  And Jane?  Well she's four years old and so acts like she's.. well four. We've had experiences where we've had to abandon cake because something hasn't been right.  And other times our boys behaviour can be misunderstood.

But lately we seem to have reached a tipping point where I think we can can cope better.  So we are trying again.  And I've got a few things to help us prepare ourselves.

1. Practice eating as a family at home.   It might seem daft but it's not that common due to when schools finish, when the kids get hungry, bedtime and when my husband gets home.  So, for a little while we're making a concerted effort to do this more often and make it more 'normal' for us to be sat around the same table.


2. Eating from proper plates and with cutlery.  It's no surprise that the restaurants don't have an endless supply of cheap plastic plates and cutlery like I do.  Some foods are natural fingers foods - some aren't!  So if we want the kids to use nice plates and cutlery when they are out then we have to give them a chance by having it at home with things they may normally eat. Arthur Price brought out a Despicable Me 3 crockery and cutlery set for kids.  It's a great size for our younger kids and a great excuse to ditch the plastic.  So far it's working well and Jane finds the cute sets fun enough to try and use it properly.

3. Practice appropriate behaviour for dining out.  Sometimes mealtimes can dissolve into a screaming match between the kids.  They are in and out of their seats and David has his iPad up so loud that no one can talk at a sensible volume.  Our kids aren't going to stop some of this, it helps them stay calm, but we can practice making it more appropriate.  If they need to jump, sit down afterwards.  If they need to listen to the iPad - try practice having it a bit quieter.

4.  Find family friendly places to try.  This list has been compiled with help from my blogger friends below.  We're going to take the plunge and let you know how we get on.

Where have you found good to eat out with the kids - where would you recommend we try?

Arthur Price sent us the beautiful Despicable Me 3 kids crockery set and cutlery set 
for purposes of review.  All opinions are my own. 


  1. Great tips here. I definitely second (or fifth) Frankie and Bennie's. They are brilliant at allergies Top really on the ball. #PostsFromTheHeart

  2. Both mine love Sunday dinner ( surprising as i don't cook !! ) so we take them occasionally to the family friendly pub whee they serve carvery.Harry only eats ham and mashed potatoes but he enjoys being out of the house. As you say, whether its a child with additional needs or not it has to be the right environment. #postsfromtheheart

  3. I hope that you have success in taking them out to dinner. All the steps you're taking sound like they'll be very helpful in normalising the situation for them. Good luck! #PostsFromTheHeart

  4. Ever since my son ha been little and I was on mat leave, we used to have Mummy/son dates eating lunch out etc. I found cafes tab debenhams to be ace and the staff were helpful if you were juggling a buggy and your tray of food! We eat out as a family because my husband runs the family restaurant and has lots of friends in the business. I agree with practice makes perfect and the more they do it the more they understand expectations but also understand there are other challenges with an autistic child as boundaries are different. Great post #TriumphantTales

  5. My kids do not have unique needs and we still dread eating out like some dread the plague. It is always a hot mess especially with the twin toddlers of terror


  6. We have those minion crockery sets :) They are so cool arent they! #triumphanttales

  7. Some really great tips here especially eating as a family at home and with proper cutlery. It may seem silly to some people but that is a big hurdle covered if it is natural for them to do that. Hope all works our for you #ablogginggoodtime

  8. I'll second Frankie & Benny's or anywhere that has booths. I always find it helps when eating out with children. Thanks for joining in with #TriumphantTales, hope to see you back again on Tuesday!

  9. I've often dreaded eating out, the way Joseph can't wait and wants to dance amongst the tables and then how everyone stares. It's so easy to just not bother but we will crack it!


  10. Great tips! Pizza Hut and Frankie and benny's are 2 of my favourites for taking the kids! Nando's too. they're all quite relaxed and fun #foodiefriday


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