Most Autism parents can relate to what I call "the short list". This is a mental list of restaurants where we can go as a family and actually ENJOY ourselves. This is not to say restaurants post a "no special needs allowed" sign outside their door but, from what we've witnessed, they might as well. This story is not about the long list of restaurants we don't go to; it's about one more restaurant that every autism parent should add to their short list.
Braeden is a 7-year-old boy on the Autism spectrum and Perry is a 14-inch plush platypus.Together, they're best friends. Braeden, Perry, and myself set out in our hometown of Media, Pennsylvania, in search of brunch. We found ourselves at a familiar, yet relatively new restaurant, Bittersweet Kitchen. Braeden ordered chocolate chip pancakes and bacon, and began to place Perry's order when I interrupted and laughed to the waitress.
Not long after our food came, so did Perry's. I sat there and watched the smile spread across Braeden's face, as I held back tears. I thanked the waitress and the owner for their kindness and left. Sitting at home later that night after Braeden and Perry were fast asleep, I couldn't help but feel completely overwhelmed with emotions. I thought about how the waitress may never know what she did for Braeden; what may have seemed like a small act of kindness to her was everything to him. As an Autism parent, all we really want is acceptance: for us, for our family, and for our child with autism. Autism is as sweet as it is bitter. Some days are very defeating, but then you find the days where you don't need to search for it, where acceptance greets you at the door and serves a stuffed platypus a meal. Those are the moments worth sharing, a day you'll always remember, and a restaurant worth the short list.