The world is a very different place when you have autism. The simple pleasure of dining out in a nice restaurant can become fraught with stress and anxiety, and this is particularly true for children with autism who find any changes to their routine unnerving. To them, a restaurant poses an unfamiliar setting, bustling with strangers.
What is the leisure and hospitality industry doing to help make restaurants a more welcoming space for those with autism and their families? The Gate in Islington became the first restaurant in the UK to receive the National Autistic Society’s (NAS) Autism Friendly Award. But what does that entail? And how can you make sure your restaurant is properly catering for your autistic customers? Here are some key pointers to bear in mind:
1. Play calm music
If you’ve ever struggled to have a conversation over booming speakers in a restaurant, you’ll know how annoying excessively loud music can be. But for autism sufferers, loud music is unbearable. Keep this in mind when selecting your dining soundtrack. Opt for easy-listening, ambient tunes at a background volume.
2. Keep things separate
Many children with autism tend to get upset if different foods on their plate are touching. Ensure that potatoes are kept at a comfortable distance from meat, and that vegetables are given their own space, too. If the meal comes with a sauce or gravy, serve this in a little bowl on the side.
3. Be flexible
A child may want the salad, but with no tomatoes. The burger, but without the bun. The fish, without the broccoli. Try to be as flexible as you can with your menu. Allow them to mix and match until they find something they really like.
4. Be efficient
Autistic children may have difficulty waiting for long periods of time and may get particularly impatient when waiting for food. Keep this in mind and try to ensure that the time between food ordering and arrival is as short as possible.
If you’d like to explore opening your own autism-friendly restaurant, get in touch with a team member at Restaurant Property for a chat.< Back