March 26th, 2013
08:00 PM ET
Last Sunday was just an average morning for Anna Kaye MacLean. Her sister, 7-year-old Arianna, had slept over at her house the night before and seemed to have woken up in a good mood - which is not always a given for a child with autism.
After determining that Arianna’s mood was stable enough for a day of fun activities outside the home, MacLean and her husband decided to take Arianna out to lunch, with a bonus visit to the Easter Bunny afterward. They decided to eat lunch at the Chili’s Bar and Grill in Midvale, Utah, where a beautiful thing happened - and went viral.
MacLean requested a booth facing the window, knowing it would allow her sister the freedom to move around, while also keeping her entertained by watching what was going on outside. The hostess happily obliged and said their server would be over to greet them soon. The MacLean party was going to be one of Lauren Wells' last tables of the day, and with a bright smile, she approached the party to introduce herself and take drink orders.
Before she could even say, “Hi, welcome to Chili’s, I’m Lauren and I’ll be your waitress,” Arianna had excitedly rattled off her entire order: chocolate milk, a cheeseburger with pickles and a side of fries.
Wells delivered the food shortly, but as MacLean watched Arianna devour her French fries, she noticed that her sister wasn’t touching her cheeseburger.
“It was really, really bizarre,” MacLean told CNN in a phone interview. “Arianna loves anything in a hamburger bun. She’s obsessed with hamburgers or ‘Krabby Patties,’” an ode to one of Arianna’s favorite cartoon shows, Spongebob Squarepants.
MacLean asked her sister if she was going to eat her cheeseburger. “No, I don’t want it,” Arianna responded. “It’s broked. I need a new one that’s fixed.”
It’s a standard Chili’s policy to cut a child’s burger in half to ensure the meat is fully cooked to 170° degrees, and that's what was "broken."
When Wells returned to the table, she noticed Arianna was crying, and asked what was the matter.
"I know this is going to sound silly, but I need to order another cheeseburger," MacLean told the server. Wells had a concerned look on her face and MacLean was quick to assure her that there was nothing wrong with the food. "No, no, no, this one is fine," she explained, "But it’s cut in half and she thinks it's broke.'”
MacLean quietly told Wells about Arianna’s autism and adamantly said she wanted to pay for the additional burger. But instead of speaking to MacLean, Wells leaned over to the little girl and addressed her directly, saying, “Ohmygosh! I brought you a broken cheeseburger! I’ll go get you a new one.”
Arianna stopped crying shortly after. MacLean, particularly moved by this, said Wells' exchange with her sister was something she had never experienced before.
“I think most people, just out of fear and the unknown, don’t know how to interact with a kid with autism, so people will usually just keep the interaction with me.” When necessary, MacLean explains her sister's condition.
Wells graduated from the University of Utah in May 2012 with a degree in psychology and hopes to do social work with children in the future. She also has an autistic family member, and said that while she thought Arianna might be autistic, she never assumes anything.
“I treated her the same way that [I would] any other kid who would be crying, but in her case, it was something different,” said Wells. She approached her manager Brad Cattermole, who told her they would happily switch out the broken burger for a new one.
Cattermole, too, stopped by the table and knelt down to speak with Arianna at eye level to apologize again. “You know, I heard we brought you a broken cheeseburger and I am so sorry. We’re back there making you a new one, but let me bring you out some french fries while you’re waiting.”
MacLean says one of the main reasons the exchange was so special was Wells' and Cattermole's decision to speak to Arianna directly.
“It was so cool because it was so intimate. [Brad] wasn’t trying to be loud or trying to make his presence know to anybody else. It was just very, very private, very intimate,” said MacLean.
“Our goal is to make guests feel special, so anything we can do to make an experience over the top of special, we give our servers the power to make the decisions to make that happen,” said Cattermole in a phone interview with CNN. “We’re trying to get each server to connect to each table individually and Lauren is amazing at connecting with our guests.”
MacLean noticed that, surprisingly, Arianna wasn’t upset about the cheeseburger. In fact, she was uncharacteristically calm about the entire situation.
“This was so bizarre because usually, that would have just led to a huge meltdown,” MacLean said, adding that a typical meltdown for Arianna could include tantrums, throwing herself on the floor and general screaming - sometimes getting so violent that she could even physically hurt herself. “I think what prevented the meltdown was that Lauren and Brad were talking to her. They weren’t talking to me, they were talking to her.”
Several minutes later, when the new, unbroken cheeseburger arrived, Arianna stared at it for a few moments before exclaiming, “Oh, I missed you!” and kissing the top of the burger bun.
MacLean quickly snapped a picture and showed it to Wells, jokingly telling her “I think we glorified the cheeseburger a little too much.” Wells, lighting up like a Christmas tree and smiling from ear to ear, asked if she could show the picture to her co-workers and manager.
“It was a cute story. I’ve never heard of a broken cheeseburger, or anything else ‘broken’ for that matter,” said Wells, explaining that she wanted to share it with her coworkers because it was such a sincere interaction.
“It was just a really, really touching experience just to see that kind of compassion and professionalism,” said MacLean. “[Lauren] could have easily just been like, ‘Okay...’ and gone to get her a new one. But she went above and beyond and I feel like everybody involved that was working that day from the hostess to the line cook, just everybody, was super, super amazing. It’s just not something that we’re used to when we have situations like that come up.”
MacLean, who works in customer service for an insurance company and recognizes good service when she sees it, decided to share her story on Chili's Facebook page. The story quickly went viral (it has been shared near 160,000 times and liked by more than 667,000 people) touching hearts around the nation.
MacLean hopes it does more than that, though; she hopes it helps people recognize that not every kid screaming in a restaurant is an uncontrollable brat.
“While we’ve never had a personal experience like this, we know people who have been asked to leave restaurants when their kid with autism starts getting out of hand. It’s so heartbreaking,” said MacLean.
While MacLean and Arianna have never been told to leave a restaurant, they have had experiences where Arianna has gotten too overwhelmed or overstimulated at the table. Other people haven't always understood her autism, and MacLean has chosen on her own accord to leave.
Arianna will sometimes growl while she is eating. MacLean believes that it may be a sensory thing that Arianna chooses to do, or that she may like the feel of growling while she eats her food. Fellow patrons haven't always understood. “We’re used to it and it’s fine, but there were some people sitting next to us and they got up and moved clear across to the other side of the restaurant because it was bothering them so bad.”
The lack of understanding can be frustrating, says MacLean. When Arianna is having a meltdown, most people think she’s just being a brat and that she's being babied. The older sister can't deliver a disclaimer about Arianna’s autism everywhere she goes, but if people are interested she will tell them. The tone of the interaction invariably changes - but words are always directed toward MacLean and never Arianna.
This made Wells' and Cattermole's interactions with Arianna all the more special. “It’s so silly," MacLean said, "but I know every person out there that has a kid with autism can relate. That broken cheeseburger can make or break our day and it made our day, and the rest of the day was great.”
MacLean admitted that she never meant for the Facebook post to go viral; rather, she wanted to recognize Wells and Cattermole for their stellar ability to connect with Arianna on a human level. “It’s not so much that we need to bring autism awareness on a customer service level," she said, "but on a normal, typical social human being interaction. Being sensitive to people whether they have autism or they don’t.”
“I think this stuff happens more often than people recognize,” Cattermole said, “but it was Anna going on to spend 15 minutes to recognize a job well done which led to this outpouring of support.”
Wells agreed, saying that while it was definitely a table she wouldn’t forget, she never expected the response MacLean’s story received. She went on to explain that her interaction with the family didn’t seem weird or out of the ordinary to her.
“It makes me so sad that this is [considered] abnormal,” said Wells. “I was just being myself. I didn’t expect any of this; it’s been overwhelming but definitely cool.”
Chili’s parent company Brinker International Restaurants echoed Cattermole's and Wells’ sentiments in an official statement emailed to CNN.
“Moments like the one from Midvale happen in our restaurants every day, at every table, at every Chili’s across the country. We are delighted by the shining examples in Lauren Wells, Brad Cattermole and the Midvale team, and their kind gestures that made Arianna, Anna and Alex [MacLean's husband] feel so incredibly special. This story made our Midvale team members heroes, and we are so proud to have so many local heroes in our restaurants nationwide who make everyday moments like Arianna’s so heartwarming.”
MacLean has since read the hundreds of comment from strangers on her Facebook post, many of whom admitted they have never thought of something like that when encountering a screaming child at a restaurant. Her hope is that the next time they see a kid being a little different they might just think, "Maybe they have autism; maybe there’s something a little more than meets the eye.”
And for the record, Chili's didn’t charge for the new, “unbroken” cheeseburger.
Has your family been touched by autism? Have you run into either positive or sticky situations in restaurants? Please share your story in the comments below.
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This was kinda sweet.... BUT!!!
If this is the way this kid is treated in general....with everyone bending over backward to avoid a tantrum, then this little girl is being set up to be perpetually obsessive and tempermental (see also: dysfunctional and dangerous).
The broken burger may not be the biggest issue, but I hope that this isn't the kind of over-accommodation technique that pervades her world.
Being autistic is one thing, but it does not mean that you have to be a demanding diva.
Parents, this kind of thing can be addressed gently while graduallly increasing the demands on the child...such that she begins to accept life's things normally.
Being autistic does not, for example, mean you have a genetic problem with broken burgers. She had to learn to dislike them (and throw tantrums to get them fixed)....she had to learn that tantrums are an effective way of getting them "fixed", too....the good news is that she can unlearn that bad characteristic, too.
Thankfully, she didn't launch into an aggressive fit this time.... but it's best if you didn't have to rely on her "good mood today!" to get away with it.
Learn a little about Autism before you make uneducated statements.
Actually, I am in the business of helping parents with this kind of issue.
Generally, I have the unhappy problem of having to address the tempermental issue once the once-cute little darling is a full grown adult who injures herself and others when little trivial things upset her.
So, when the kid is young a cute....and the 45 lb kid's tantrums are tolerable. We come up with a million and one excuses for the tantrums. When they are small, we have the luxury of explaining everything away as "oh, she is autistic".
But when the stakes are higher, and you and your family are being assaulted by a full grown adult, people begin questioning their initial philosophy about autism.
I say, have some respect for the autistic person by helping them become functioning and safe members of society. Trying to be "open minded" by constantly excusing challenging, unsafe behavior is setting the child up for a lifetime of living under heavy restriction, institutionalization, and with very few chances at some of life's more enjoyable offerings.
Again, this little CNN story is certainly charming and may indicate that this child is going to be a totally groovy person....not enough information.
If you're 'in the business' I can only hope I don't bring my son to you. You don't have a deep, inner-understanding of these "little darlings." Reading books, getting a degree, and even being around special needs kids all day long doesn't make one a 'professional.' Truly understanding them does. Best of luck to you.
Wow Amy. I think you didn't even read what sticky posted but rather just decided on an emotional angle to respond with and ignored the content. Read with your eyes/brain, not with your ego.
You REALLY do no know what you are talking about. This response will not create a diva. Autistic kids deal with overload at a level that we cannot understand. By making that small accommodation, she was able to deal with the rest of the day. Over time, these kids learn to deal with more and more, so that, maybe when she is 20, such a thing would be no big deal. You need to educate yourself more. Spend a half a day with one of these families and then pass your theoretical judgements.
I did not say that THIS would create a challenging behavior. In fact, the waiter reinforced her calm response to the broken burger. kudos... excellent!
If she was throwing a fit, it would have been interesting to see if she would have received the same reward (the fixed burger)... now THAT would have been problematic.
Other statements in the article indicate that there may have been deeper and possibly dangerous issues to consider.
The brains of Autistic kids are not the same as normal kids. They are physically different and they don't learn or react the same way to situations. You act like people accommodating her is spoiling her. Why don't you try to work with an Autistic kid and see if the way you think changes.
Wow. What a very uneducated opinion. You need to study up on Autism.
It's disappointing, but not surprising, to see this is the first comment here. In typical fashion, this uneducated idiot proclaims their superior knowledge of a topic they clearly have no experience, let alone proficiency, with. I sincerely hope you never have the heartbreak and constant horror of having a child with autism, because with your attitude, that child will have NO chance of being somewhat "okay".
people with autism do not "throw tantrums" in order to control a situation. It happens because they cannot process what is going on.
Oh yes.....some do. Autism is a very wide spectrum and some kids do throw tantrums for avoidance like a typical kid. It's being able to tell the difference from a "sensory, autistic" tantrum or a "typical trying to get away with something" tantrum.
I have an autistic son and believe me when I tell you this is not learned behavior. Some kids will only eat certain foods because of tactile issues. You are an uneducated douche. Must be nice to be so f*ckin superior, huh?
Are you sure you have any idea what working with autistic children is like? Or any clue about how autistic children perceive the world, to make the determination that she was just "being demanding"? You either know nothing, and therefore shouldn't comment on things you don't understand, or you DO know and I am therefore shocked at this response.
A bit self-righteous, aren't you? What if you were sold a pair of shoes cut in halves? Accept it? Be unhappy about it? To the child it was a big deal. The others are right. You know nothing about autism.
For you to leave such a terrible response, I bet you have never had to deal with a child that has special needs. It is true that unless you walk in their shoe, keep your comment to your self.
I completely agree. My son displayed many signs for autism from 18 mo- 3.5 years. One of the things he would flip out about was if something was not completely whole. If even the tiniest piece was missing, he'd freak out, let alone if it was half of anything. My undergrad is in child psyc and I am a teacher. I was *not* going to have a child that grew up acting that way. With a ton of early intervention on my part, and some outside sources, he is night and day compared to how he used to be. He talks now, makes eye contact now, no longer flaps arms/gets on toes/screams until he passes out, etc, etc, etc. He overcame his aversion to sand, grass, water, etc. Why?? Because I did not give in to everything he wanted to freak out about. I taught him how to channel his emotions elsewhere by sitting down, counting to 3 (or 10 as he got older), etc. He learned that if he didn't want half a cookie, he would get none. Yeah it's tough love, but early intervention is KEY. In a restaurant, store, anywhere, if any of my kids (autism or not) were even about to throw a fit, we'd go outside and they'd have a time out, knowing if it happened again, we'd leave, and that would be that. If you consistently give in to your child because you're out in public and don't want to make a scene, they will see right through that and know that they'll get whatever they want any time they are not at home. Is that a good message to teach them? Take it from someone who is well-educated in the topic and has a child that fit the mold for several years: if you continue to give in to each little quirk, those quirks will never go away, and will affect your child's social capabilities forever. Again, it was rough for a year or two, and at the time my husband didn't quite get it because he didn't want to admit there was a problem, but he understands now, especially when he sees kids my son's age who act now the way he used to. My son still has some very mild issues, but nothing that will make him socially awkward for the rest of his life. It's nice that the waitress did this; that part is very commendable. But the parents will undoubtedly have a long haul ahead of them if this is the norm for how they handle these situations!
This is the best response in the bunch. You are a great parent, and your child will have a far greater level of independence as an adult than a lot of other autistic kids.
Your child "displayed signs" of Autism, but doesn't have Autism. BIG difference. ASD is a spectrum, and just like NT children every child is different (ever hear the phrase "If you've met one child with Autism, you've met one child with Autism"? Early Intervention is key, but as a child psych major and a teacher I would hope you would appreciate that your experience with a child who DOESN'T have Autism doesn't mesh with many other families whose children DO have Autism. If not, I think you've chosen the wrong career path. Unfortunately many kids that do have Autism aren't able to process noises and environment that same way as a NT child would.
Nicely said, but your treatment of your child (which is TRULY loving and of great benefit to your child) is very rare.
Many parents can't tolerate the upset behavior of their child and so they rush to solve and over-accommodate every problem issue until the child has learned to have a zillion "idiosyncrasies" and expects the world to accommodate them "or else!".
We have not cultivated lots of fancy excuses: sensory overload is the new favorite (an offshoot of the entirely unsubstantiated "sensory integration" fad)
While the kid is very small and the kid's demands are easy to accomodate, parents and schools play along and satisfy the child's demands.... and yes, successfully avoid tantrums. Everyone feels like an expert at this point.
The, later, when the child is 180 lbs and insists on those same accommodation that isn't possible to provide.... well, Houston we have a problem.
YES! Use the child's interests and strenghts to help with this. My son LOVES animated movies. Maybe we'd get Woody and Buzz to want to share his hamburger, we'd have to "break" it so everyone could have some. The choice would be his.....nor Buzz and Woody or a "broken" burger. Or we'd start with Woody and Buzz sharing a "broken burger" with a social story or drawing them with talk and thought bubbles. Obviously this would'nt be done at the restaurant & in the situation in this article, I would ask for another burger, but this would become an issue to gently work on at home. Woody and Buzz have helped with keeping doors closed, being #10 in line at school, being flexable with dinner time, etc...
If only more parents would be up for this extremely tough job like you are...
You clearly don't have much experience with autistic children and need to keep your ignorant comments to yourself. I'm the father of an autistic child, and what this breakdown this little girl had was not a "tantrum." The logic of the "broken" burger registers different to her than it would for you or I. She wasn't fussing to get a new burger. She was having a reaction to the initial food presented to her. Routine and repetition are a dominant need for autistic children, and when things occur outside of that order, it can be very stressful for the child. Please educate yourself a bit more before expressing an opinion.
Are you kidding?! You have no idea what you are saying. I can only hope you get to know an autistic kid one day. They will teach YOU – rather than the other way around.
On behalf of my fellow autist, maybe I should cut your car in half and see if you like it?
But that's not really what it feels like, autism. It's a hyper awareness, to constantly be bombarded by every little thing and detail, so we shut it out to keep from being overwhelmed. But what happened here wasn't even that.
I know it's tough, trying to bend over backwards, but they don't feel the same way you do about these kinds of things. And trust me I know being autistic myself, albeit high functioning. I can grit my teeth and bear a "broked" burger but for someone this autistic; they can't, even if they understood everything involved. It's something that bothers you more than anything, like a spider crawling on your arm. Or like an itch you can't scratch. There's no reason for it, really, you just REALLY REALLY want to scratch it. And if you can't... Well yeah that's pretty tantrum inducing.
You write beautifully!
Do everyone a favor and go away.
I agree with you, however it is a fine line. You need to know when the child is regulated enough to try to work through the situation. I have an 11 yr. old son with Autism and we have the same attitude as sticky humid.....try to help him work through some of his autistic issues as opposed to changing EVERYTHING for him his way. Sometimes he really can't & we need to "get an unbroken" burger for him, but if you try & don't give up and find things that work for that child, you'd be surprised what they might be able to overcome.
Apparently you have never been around an autistic child. My 16 year old son is a very sweet and lovable boy with autism (middle of the spectrum). That being said there are always going to be good days and bad days. When a person with autism is over stimulated or upset it is like a volcano that must erupt. My husband and I have worked very hard with him as he has grown to help him self soothe, but it has taken years to do so. This little girl is only 7 and so she still has years of growing and maturity to learn these skills. When Brandon was 7 if someone served him a hamburger with anything other than a bun on it there was almost surely a total meltdown. Now at 16 if it comes with lettuce, tomato, etc. he simply takes it off and places it on a napkin.
I am in no way making fun of children, but I do have to agree with you on some kids getting their way. My aunt is a school psychologist and has a daughter on the autism spectrum. My aunt will do ANYTHING for her, so she doesn't throw a tantrum or kick and scream. My cousin is about to turn 19, and can get whatever she wants because my aunt will do it so she doesn't have to hear her complain. My aunt knows better, but still does it and it has caused a headache for may family, because no one will watch my cousin for her, not knowing if she will want something and how violent she will get if she doesn't get it. My cousin has sent my grandma to the hospital once over not being able to watch a TV program. I love my cousin and my aunt, but this has divided my family immensely.
I am in the business of customer service and I think this is a wonderful story. KUDOS to the staff at Chili's. Great job!!
“It makes me so sad that this is [considered] abnormal,” said Wells. “I was just being myself. I didn’t expect any of this; it’s been overwhelming but definitely cool.”
Yes, it is very sad that when someone treats another human being in what should be considered a normal, expected decent and kind manner, it becomes national news.. but that is the way of the world these days and this wonderful server (and her manager) give me hope that all human decency is not lost.. Kudos to both of them! More stories like this, please, CNN!
Great job Wells and Catterpole! The world needs more people like you. I can't believe how many harsh comments are being posted, shows you how many cowards sit behind a keyboard.
Beautiful. I agree with the server, though. It's a shame a story like this is considered unusual. Basic human decency does happen more than we realize, though, that's also true. You wouldn't know it from some of these comments, but we tend to remember the trolls more than the treasures.
This whole article disgusts me. Especially galling are the comments effusing praise and warm feelings towards the waitress, the restaurant and sympathy to the parents.
This article was about throwing away perfectly good food – on purpose.
Starvation – the Irish Potato Famine, the Ukrainian Holodomor, the current 20,000 to 30,000 children daily – is a ghastly, slow and painful way to die.
But go ahead, praise and celebrate what the waitress did and what the parents condoned – the throwing away of perfectly good food – in service to the tyranny of the individual. Go ahead, give us a lesson in adjectives and subject us to mind-controlling social engineering by being told which "correct" words to use. Newspeak, anyone? Go ahead, think that this was a good deed and not a slap in the face to those who went to bed with hunger pangs last night. Had the little girl been really hungry, she would have eaten what was placed in front of her. What is "broken" is society.
I think you left your tinfoil hat somewhere...
I am against the praising of throwing away perfectly good food when 20,000 to 30,000 children die from starvation every day – so I am crazy?
Are you for the throwing away of perfectly good food?
wow! please , whatever you do, please don't ever breed! I threw away my breakfast, then went got another serving, threw it away, then ordered another plate which I never touched and plan to leave on the table when I leave. the extra 10 bucks I spent was worth the laugh. I also texted everyone I know and asked them to throw away some of their breakfast In your honor! Later tonight I will throw all the left overs in my fridge away as I think of your post! Therefore your ludicris post actually caused more food to be thrown away than this little girl did! How do you feel now? The nerve of some people. I also ask that everyone who reads this post throws some perfectly good food away in BotanyBay's honor!!
Hello BotanyBay, I agree that food should not be wasted. I was raised to not waste food, the whole "children are starving in Europe" routine (this was the '50s) This society we are a part of wastes virtually everything. However, you really need to let it go. Whether this cheeseburger was eaten, thrown away or shellacked and made into a paperweight has absolutely no effect on famines of the past. It also has no relationship to hungry people at the present time. If the girl ate the "broken" cheeseburger they'd still be hungry. Give to the food banks and similar charities and take it easy.
You, are a dispicable a$Zhole.
That is some of the most ignorant and uninformed BS I have ever heard anyone say regarding a child. It is quite obvious you never had to deal with a child with any special abilities. If you had any children at all, and treated them this way, please allow me to publicly give them my condolences at this time, for what must have been pure hell as a childhood. Please do the world a favor...get some sensitivity training or therapy, keep your ignorance to yourself, or just fall off the face of the planet...your choice.
AMEN! Well said. This "person" is obviously suffering from incurable stupidity. You know this type of person, the class clown who always has to go for the laugh or the shock value at other's expense. Grow up.
Grow up? That's my point – 20,000 -30,000 children died yesterday, are dying today and will die tomorrow of starvation. They will not grow up! Those children would not only gladly eat the "broken" burger, but would lick the plate.
Are you for the praising of throwing away perfectly good food?
Ignorant hyperbole. That one hamburger would save no one within a reasonable radius. Have some compassion. Brains don't work the way you assume they do. This is not spoiling. How is this any different than someone who sends back a burger that is overcooked? Autism is not an epidemic of brats–it's a neurological disorder that makes everyday life very, very difficult.
Ignorant hyperbole? One hamburger X's how many? Fact: Americans throw away approximately 40% of their food.
Are you for the praising of throwing away perfectly good food when 20,000 – 30,000 children die every day from starvation? Where is your compassion?
In all likelihood, someone on the staff ate it later. The kids in Third World Countries are still starving. And had the restaurant been able to wrap up that burger and send it to Somalia that evening, who's to say they wouldn't have?
Did your parents not hug you as a child or something?
Hahahahahahahahahaha! I'm sorry but your comment was so incredibly ridiculous that I don't even think you realize how crazy you actually sound. Let me break it down for you. One cheeseburger is being discarded, yes, but is this entire article only focused on that one particular event? No. This article is about the child and the waitress' response to that child. The cheeseburger being thrown away was what you would call "collateral" due to that event. Sure food being wasted is not necessarily a good thing but to form your argument under the basis of "service to the tyranny of this individual"...are you kidding me? People are not starving because Americans are throwing away food. They are starving because they are living in poverty and you believe that because these people are living in poverty that they automatically deserve that extra step that the rich are "so obligated" to take just because they live better lives than those in poverty. Is it fair? I don't know. I was born in America, have a good job, make money, and can afford to possibly discard food in the rare occurrence that perhaps I, for some reason, don't want to eat what's in front of me. I feel lucky to have been born in America because I was GIVEN THE CHANCE to make a living and make money. Yes, I feel LUCKY to have been born in America. My luck ends there. I worked for the money I have and I'm sure that the family in the story has done the same. I am fortunate to not have been born in poverty, however I do NOT believe that its is a requirement for those like myself to support those who were born in poverty.
Back to my original point, you are ridiculous for expecting someone with the burden of an autistic child to spend even more of their time trying to support those in poverty who cannot afford food. If you feel so inclined to try to help those in poverty, I can direct you to some dumpsters behind restaurants where you will, no doubt, find plenty of discarded cheeseburgers. Ship those cheeseburgers to the poor, keep the foil they were wrapped in for your head.
Where did I say that I "believe that because these people are living in poverty that they automatically deserve that extra step that the rich are "so obligated" to take just because they live better lives than those in poverty"
I don't believe this.
You wrote: "I do NOT believe that its is a requirement for those like myself to support those who were born in poverty."
I agree totally.
You wrote: "you are ridiculous for expecting someone with the burden of an autistic child to spend even more of their time trying to support those in poverty who cannot afford food." Where did I say that?
I believe that perfectly good food should not be thrown away and the act certainly shouldn't be praised – it is arrogance.
It's the age old principle we teach our children everyday. If we ignore fools such as this they go away. Do not feed the troll.
So far I've been called crazy, sworn at, told not to reproduce (and if I had condolences to my offspring), hyperbolic and been presented with the strawman logical fallacy of sending the burger to Ethiopia. Now – I'm a troll. Funny when someone is faced with defending the indefensible – the name calling commences. Gee, I wonder what internet meme will surface next? Godwin's Law?
Love Chili's! They do make their customers feel special. What a wonderful story, made my day!
This was a wonderful story to start my day today. I think we all too often jump to conclusions and react rather than pause a moment, think and act kindly...its a lesson for all of us.
Should of force fed it! ha ha ha!
You should have gone to school today.
Someone should force feed you some brains and manners.
Please do not breed and give some serious thought to self-harm.
Yes, that's why people go to restaurants, to have food uncomfortably shoved down their throats.
Waste of food.
Wow, that almost made me cry, and usually I am a heartless jerk. What's wrong with me?
Well if you looking to put an arrow through someone's heart, congrates. My 30 year old autistic son showed me this article and he stood here as I read it. He saw your filthy, degrading, ignorant comment. Looks like I will now be dealing with your meanness and bullying for the rest of the day, you prick.
Clearly you have never dealt with someone who has autism. Try to understand that their perception of the world as we know it is different. They are literally in their own world and being overstimulated can be overwhelming for them.
Before you comment, put yourself in someone else's shoes before making a comment.
Ummm.... no. You need an education.
"Whatever" = mantra of morons
You've obviously never seen or interacted with anyone who has autism.
Autism. It's the new retarded.
What the hell is wrong with you!
Nothing. This is what happens when you get to hide behind a keyboard. Don't fret to much, Padric22 does not leave the basement.
lets hope not
Just found out about this comment and am horrified. A houseguest for the week seems to think that he's not going to get his a s$ kicked for writing that comment. I have two children who are autistic and it made me cry when I read what he wrote in my name. I threw his belongings out in the lawn and had him apologize to my boys for being such a...I can't use the word here before I beat him to the point where he cried in pain. My sincere apologies to everyone. I love my boys and I cannot think of the complete lack of civility and intelligence and humanity that would lead someone to hurt my children like this not to mention the community of parents and children who struggle every day to just try to function with this thing that has all but taken my boys away from me. I know that they're in there somewhere. I'm just trying to find them.
I am absolutely stunned by your callousness. You should be ashamed of yourself. The anonymity of the internet shouldn't allow you to act with such cruelty. Re-think your words and please adjust your attitude.
Padric22. It's the new stoopid a$$hole.
Padric22. It's the new stupid.
Just wait until you have an autistic child of your own, maybe you will grow up at that point.
I hope you choose not to breed.
Please kill yourself. Today if possible.
So the best way to treat people, regardless of their age or disability, is with courtesy, tolerance and respect? Too bad those qualities are too often in short supply. Kudos to Lauren Wells and Brad Cattermole for reminding us all how it's done.
Fake....Fake.... 'Muricans are not nice anymore.......
Just kidding btw....
Finally, a feel good story.
I think the point is not that they "catered" for the child, it is in the manner how they did it. All children have special orders. I take care of my neices ( three of them...fun, but yikes at times ), and you'd be surprised ( no crusts on pizza, one who likes no pickles, one who literally likes extra, etc ). The point of this story ( in my opinion ) is that they went above and beyond in a normal way, without making a huge deal about it. They treated her like a "normal" kid ( not meant to be offensive, that's why quotes are used ).
If you are really offended believing Chili's shouldn't have gone above and beyond, which I don't think they did, they just showed the girl respect without awkwardness, then just read the front page about the homophobic cross dressing former porn star teacher who was murdered by the twice convicted pedophile gym coach
Broken kids, broken food.....what's next.
SOUNDOFF – I know what's next – Broken JERKS like you!
What a sweet gesture of kindness to a child with autism. Not to put a damper on the good feeling, but, there other children in the world that might never see a burger in their life. Our children should be taught how to appreciate the previlidges we have in our society by giving them a global perspective on some things, even at an early age. But, acts of kindness like this is just as valuable to any learning child, as well, and to everyone else. Mature and responsible adults like this lead by example by showing understanding and compassion. Good job!
The world needs more people like Lauren.
Many people see this as "catering" to a difficult child but as the parent of a 21 year old with autism, I can tell you that something as silly as a "broken" cheeseburger can turn into a day from hell very quickly ... with a family member or caregiver having little or no control over the situation. My son refuses to eat with regular silverware and insists on using plastic utensils, his food must be on separate plates/bowls as they cannot touch, and he insists on ordering his own meal, which is often given in a non-sensical, rambling manner and usually requires translation. Most servers are very patient with him – which is GREATLY appreciated – but that's not always the case. Our family wants to dine out like other typical families but it just takes a little extra effort to do so and sometimes, people are simply not as willing to help us to have that experience. So to hear such an awesome story like this is absolutely refreshing. Kudos to Lauren and Brad for showing such compassion for little Arianna and for treating her with the same respect and courtesy that should be afford to everyone. It costs nothing to be kind ... and as this story proves, the rewards are so much greater.
Most of the comments here show just how "special" it is to have some tolerance and kindness. I sincerly hope Ms Wells gets into her chosen profession soon. And thank you to all food industry folks... where I live this type of service is not out of the ordinary, and I'm very thankful for that. P.S. Darn you CNN for making me tear up on my breakfast burrito, but thanks for the story.
"Up next, a massive EHEC outbreak prompts dozens of customers to sue Chili's. Plaintiffs claim that Chili's knowingly altered its previous policy of cutting kids' burgers in half to check for safe cooking temperatures. Chili's claims it changed the policy to avoid lawsuits by throngs of offended hipster parents, who claimed the halved-burger policy was exclusionary and prone to rocketing their autistic kids into a downward spiral of despair. In other news, United States men now wear skinny jeans and are dumbfounded by power tools..."
Sounds like you are an all-or-nothing sort of person - you see a story that doesn't agree with your little world and think it represents the end of life as we know it.
Sad... once it was considered polite to actually try and accommodate the needs of others. It was considered courtesy. Now it appears you think being considerate to others is tantamount to the destruction of society.
Wow. So cynical. It must be kind of sad to be you.
Apparently you missed the obvious, Captain. If they were cutting the burgers in half to check that they were fully cooked, they would cut everyone's burgers, not just the kids'.
Ridiculous story. If "special" people don't wanted to be treated as "different", then why cater to them? I'd say, "Eat the frigging cheeseburger or go hungry, you little brat."
u r a true idlot
You need to do some research on Autism and take a course in loving kindness and compassion.
I hope some day you are able to experience just why your comment is asinine.
Pls never, ever fly in your life. U're the kind of person I hate sitting next to – or even just have somewhere around!
cp, I mean! The little girl is fine, but not inconsiderate guys who just keep on complaining about everything...
You are a good illustration of why the world is falling apart. You only think of yourself - no consideration for the needs or shortcomings of others.
Once, Americans looked out for each other. Apparently, now they only look out for themselves. I am sorry for your bitterness at life, but it still doesn't excuse your lack of courtesy or compassion.
Exactly! They sure as heck don't want to be treated as different, but oh boy, it's time to differentiate to accommodate their butts whenever they want it to suit them.
Children such as Arianna have no concept of being treated differently or not. You're projecting the way you see the world onto a child whose brain chemistry does not allow her to process stimuli as you do. Consider yourself blessed that you are able to suck it up when things don't go your way. And maybe take a course in the actual physiology of autism. Not everything in the world is black and white.
Another person hiding behind a keyboard...lol
cp, I agree with you. Treat everyone equally! People with special needs need to be treated the same as the rest of us so that no one is above one another. Take out handicapped parking! Seeing eye dogs? Not any more! Screw braille! Peanut allergies? Ha! Cook everything in peanut oils now! Wheelchair accessible ramps? Take 'em out!
I have a feeling I'm reading sarcasm here. Not everybody gets it. :)
Where do they grow people like you? Dumfukistan?
That burger looks f*cking good. I want it so bad. Oh and cool story.
Very moving story...I also want to share that there are over 200 Billion galaxies and that we can only see 5 with our naked eye!!
It was a commercial for Chilli's. They want you to buy their burgers.
The fact about the galaxies is good. I didn't know that.
Last 3 times at chilis I left with issues that required tissues. If ya know what I mean.
I know what you mean, HOT waitresses.
Wonderful story. Good luck, Arianna.
I do feel the article is a little harsh on the people who moved across the dining room because they had trouble dealing with the girl growling as she ate. With all the understanding in the world, they still are spending their money to go out and have a relaxing meal. If it makes them happier to sit where they don't have to listen to a child growl and they aren't coming up to the table and accusing anyone of being horrible parents, have they really committed some horrible sin?
I'm the first person in the world to say "I don't know what's going on with the people at the next table, and it's not my place to judge," but I also can't afford to go out to dinner often, and it's usually a special occasion. If my family and I move to a quieter table, it doesn't mean I hate your autistic child or don't understand. It just means I want to enjoy my meal and leave her to enjoy hers in whatever manner she needs to. Surely the two aren't exclusive.
I understand and agree...My youngest daughter and I splurged on IHOP one night, were seated behind a family with a 2 yrs old and a baby approximately 8 to 10 months old. Baby crying, toddler all over our bench. I had worked a 10 hr day my daughter was relaxing before having to teach 25 3rd graders, as she has done(teaching) for 7 years. we asked to be moved. All went well, just find a solution that will work....
Absolutely agree with you. I work with children with special needs daily and I too enjoy a nice break once and awhile. It is ok to be asked to be moved. You are respecting them by not saying anything or giving dirty looks. Special needs or not, I wouldn't want to listen to anyone growling while I eat my dinner. I would expect that her sister could understand that. I think the server and the waitress are super people with great compassion. They took a chance though. Some children with Autism don't like to be spoken to by strangers. I have to honestly say that even with my experience I'm not sure what I would have done in the moment....good on them!
As an adult with sensory integration issues (related to autism), I can tell you that a crying child - or sometimes just a small child's voice - can cause incredible stress. My solution has always been to move to another part of the restaurant.
Sometimes the person moving is the one with the problem... and just like with this girl, don't be too quick to judge why they moved. Some might be jerks, but some might just need some quiet time - and changing where you sit in a restaurant is an easy solution that doesn't hurt anyone.
My first grandchild was born 61/2 years ago. I was in heaven, having raised two girls, I now had a grandson to experience new things...I never could have imagined what the last 61/2 years had in store for all of us. He is amazing. I raised my daughters, helped with neices and nephews, but somehow somthing wasn't ok in our day to day activities.
When my grandson was 12 months old, we performed the test that gives you a measure of the level of what a 1 yr old should be at. He was diagnosed with autisim at 2 yrs old. The biggest mountain was that despite being with him 5 days a week, 10 hours a day I never heard him utter a sound. All I saw was the biggest smile I ever saw in my life, I knew he understood everthing I was saying, he just couldn't respond. I kept talking, and talking and talking... songs, rhymes, stories, numbers, nursery tales. I bought every possible educational tool, toy,book. We enrolled him in pre/pre school , art, gym,sports class available. I would repeat his weekly therapy sessions, having taken notes on what to do every day he did not have therapy. My grandson was 4 years old before he ever said my name. "Nana" is the most precious word to me. Food is a big issue, still I can not, will not make him physically ill because I want him to eat something He feels can't. Think broccoli, snails, raw meat.................................Our brains are all different. He loves vegetables, fruits, cheese, bread, cranberry juice, water................................I have begun to repilcate his diet to see if it serves me better, now if I could cut out the wine I would be in heaven. I guess what I am trying to say is that each and every child that experiences autisim is unique in their own way. We can not define what is best, unless we know the child, as I and his family know our child. Be good to your child. Love them unconditionally.Work with your child, even when you have put in a 10 hour day. Everyday, I pray to God to let me be there for him, and his little brother 41/2 yrs old. I want them to know that life has its ups and downs, but we are all lucky to be alive................
I fail to understand why this is a story. Where do these people live!? Since when do restaurants not adjust food for kids? And so what if she's autistic? Where we live, everyone talks to our child who has autism.
I'm just flabbergasted that this is 'news' or somehow special and touching. I can't help but think that its just a Chili's PR piece. Its almost like some kind of satirical story you read in the Onion. "Then the waitress actually SPOKE to my disabled daughter!" and "Golly gee, they even gave us the new burger for FREE!"
Consider yourself lucky. Many people have had bad experiences in similar circumstances.
Because people in this day and age don't seem to give as much of a crap about others as they used to. The pure selfishness of Americans has become almost trendy, while acts of kindness like this are so rare that they "go viral". I loved this story, it made me feel good, and helped my belief that there ARE lots of GOOD people in the world. It's just harder to find them, these days.
Articles like this are necessary to remind people like Rachel to not stereotype all fo American culture as being selfish and uncaring. If not for this article, perhaps Rachel would have jumped off a bridge while listening to Nirvana on her Ipod
Do you feel better about yourself now?
Yes, very much so. Thanks so much ;)
It's not about the burger. Of course, good service will fix a food issue. This issue is ENTIRELY about how these two individuals had the presence of mind and decent heart (yes VERY lacking in the world) to deal with this girl in a way that, frankly, is rare, and was quite possibly the best reponse that they could have given. It's not the burger, it's the girl, and the people who treated her as human rather than an irritation.
Cook the thing to 170? Why not save money and just serve a charcoal briquette? Ye gods, that's not a hamburger, that's a carbon footprint.
It's a cute story but I'm not sure why it is national news. A child with mental issues decides her hamburger is "broken" and everyone melts into little puddles.
Jim, I love your one liner about the carbon footprint.
To answer your second question, America news outlets regardless of scale release human-intererest stories as a way of balancing the type of subject matter covered. Because this became a nationwide meme, it could perhaps classify as a national human interest story. I think it works as a teachable moment as well. Some people don't necessary know how or why people with Autism melt down and they assume things about them. This article reminds us otherwise.
The issue isn't that it is a cute story and not worth attention....the issue is that another human being took the initiative and showed compassion and caring for a child in distress (regardless of the reason for that distress)...something that is indeed rare in our world today. A worthy story showing that such acring and thought still exists in these troubled times!
Jim...it needs to be clarified that autism is a neurological disorder and is of varying degrees. I am a 41 year old career military Officer with Aspergers Syndrome...highly functional but yet there are areas of affect that make "normalcy" impossible, but it is neurological not mental. The same is true with my son. That understanding can go a long way when seeing why this is actually something of interest. Trust me...destigmatizing from mental to neurological will obviate the majority of misconceptions and render better understanding. Certainly something I would recommend to all not just you based on your miscatagorization of the condition.
April is autism awareness month, so they are hoping to educate morons like you
Wait... She graduated from the University of Utah in May 2012 with a degree in psychology and is working as a waitress at Chilis?
You sound....surprised. A lot of college graduates are finding it very difficult to land jobs. She's one of many. At least she's doing something, making some kind of money. I'm sure it isn't what she would like to be doing, but gotta keep on keepin' on.
A degree in Psychology isn't much good unless it's at least a Master's level.
Some of you are way off base. If you have a child with autism and you haven't accommodated them in a situation similar to this at some point, you more than likely have the wrong diagnosis. Sometimes you have to stand your ground and sometimes it really doesn't matter. I applaud those of you who are taking your gentle critiques from the internet psychologists that love to frequent message boards for not just telling them where to place their opinions.
The big issue is deciding when and where to "stand your ground!" You have to decide right away, once you say no, you can't go back... however, my daughter has had some HUGE meltdowns over things not being right, the way she expects or wants them to be. It's not always that easy and sometimes you are taken completely off guard by what will cause a major meltdown. We have been evicted from an apartment over my daughter's meltdown which was all because I wouldn't make cookies... being placed in handcuffs at Walmart because we couldn't agree on ice cream and waffles... It's not always so clear cut! My daughter completely freaked out one time because after seeing a movie in a theatre, we went to a different bathroom than usual! A meltdown that lasted for a good hour ensued as I drove her straight to the psychiatrist's office.
Shame on you CNN. The tile should have read Girl with Autism, not autistic girl.
And you forgot the Grout and the tile holders. Get a grip, you Moron.
i too have a child with autism and in it's really getting old seeing so many neurologically typical people fret over the verb-age of whether a child "has autism" or is an "autistic child", truth is children with autism are not concerned about your political correctness in which your addressing their diagnosis. my point is just the same in the medical profession they will (political and medically correct) refer to the "cancer patient" no difference. just appreciate this as a beautiful story that could've been an ugly situation.
Why is that? Are you the Semantics Police?
That is so sweet... My daughter has Asperger's and when we went to Chilli's she always loved to get their pizza. However, the first time she got it, it was cut very irregularly, small and large pieces – so that is how she determined it "should" be. The next time she got one, cut very neatly and freaked out cause it was "wrong!" I had to send it back to be re-cut. After that, we always asked for it to be cut crooked and would get the strangest reactions and then I always had to explain why. The pizza just wasn't right if it wasn't cut obviously, unevenly! Life has had lots of challenges and now that she's 18, things are better... but some things still have to be the same...
The things we do for our kids. I can totally relate.
For the longest time, my son would almost only eat chicken and it had to be cooked a certain way.
Some people would tell me "don't spoil your child" but the thing is, if I didn't feed him chicken, he wouldn't eat.
He's a lot better now. He'll occasionally eat something else.
It is because.... once a subject or item is implanted... it becomes an autistic persons "pattern". They do not deviate from that. Otherwise, it is upsetting to them. I have a Nephew with full blown autism. He was the age of when Tetris originally came out. He had small record player. To this day, age 52, he remains playing the same things that he did at 10 yrs old. His mentality is equivalent to age 10. He is happy in his world... and Tetris is back! :)
I am the mother of an autistic child. While my son is very high functioning ( after years of very hard work on his part) we have had our share of heartless people. It give me hope for the future when I read things like this. The world would be a lot better place if we had more people like this!
I have an autistic dog, her choices are... interesting, she only likes certain colored dog treats and only eats her meals when the other dog is in front of her.
Oh my god, that sounds just like my autistic camel! Except he also won't eat without receiving a prostate massage.
I learn something new every day. Good article.
I'm sorry to be nit-picky, but as a graduate student working in the special education field, it bothers me to see the word "autistic" used as an adjective. It definitely hits a nerve because our teachers and coworkers have taught us to use People First Language (PLL). The jist of PLL is to present individuals with disabilities as people first, and a disability second. Especially in the title, I would've liked to see "girl with autism." I know, I know. People are touchy and always looking for "politically correct" language these days. I know many people just don't care and are 'over it'; however, a person should not be defined primarily because they are different. This story would have been just as cute even if the little girl didn't have autism! I'm just trying to make people aware that this little girl is firstly a person, and not a diagnosis.
Does a college education teach you not to be such a D-ouche?
I consider myself having a sophisticated sense of humor, and I hate to type the phrase "LOL," however, this was one of the funniest abrupt things I have read in a long while.
At least I do not subject myself to name call when my opinions differ from someone else's. I was just trying to bring PLL to the table if people hadn't heard about it.
As the mother of a son with a high-functioning Autism-spectrum disorder, I really do appreciate that you want to be politically correct about your verbage. I, personally, don't mind having my son called "Autistic" and sometimes say it myself. Although, I will usually just say that he has an Autism-spectrum disorder bc he doesn't have the actual diagnosis of "Autism" (It's PDD-NOS). I think many of the special-needs parents have too many other issues to think about to worry about whether you say "an autistic child" or "a child with Autism". It never even occurred to me to be offended by it. However, there is always going to be someone that finds fault or offense at just about anything so I really appreciate you trying to say it in the least offensive way possible. Just try not to get too preachy or soap-boxy about it bc it does lead to ignorant people leaving rude remarks and/or thinking more negative thoughts about the Autism population. Thank you so much for your passion and your choice to pursue such an under-appreciated/under-paid profession to help others! :)
I really hope this is very clever satire showing why people don't engage with "children with autism"–because they are afraid of upsetting PC people who act like this.
great article – but I also agree with Anonymouse . . . it should be "the girl with autism", not the autistic girl. The person always comes before the disability.
If you want to get nit-picky Autism is a LABEL not a clinical diagnosis in today's science of psychology. Of the Autism Spectrum Disorders you can be diagnosed with PDD-NOS, Autistic Disorder or Asperger's Syndrome. At present or very soon I beleive that Asperger's Syndrome will not be a technical term in a clinical diagnosis either.
This lack of definition for individuals on the spectrum is confusing to society and leads to misunderstanding. The label of Autism does not in any way define an individual's limits or abilities but often times I see people, professionals and teachers treat my son differently and set low expectations. So if you don't think it is important to individuals on the spectrum how you choose to label them, consider that you are being lazy and accept the fact that YOU are the one with empathy issues.
Takeout or eat at home is the norm or for special occasions sadly McDonald's, because eating out with our autistic son can ruin everyone in the restaurant's dinner. No ice, diet coke, a certain color straw, "not that kind of macaroni and cheese," and when we went to a restaurant that I won't name where we go for our birthdays where the chocolate chip cookie comes with ice cream and chocolate sauce. Being the only kid who doesn't like ice cream, when it arrived with ice cream (after we said "no ice cream" and he screamed) the waiter whisked it away and brought a new one. I find the shirts I order from Iloveachildwithautism.com that say "Autistic Genius" or other pithy sayings helps having to explain it to everyone.
I've got 2 with autism as well. As the years have gone on, it's gotten easier. However, we can't have a cookout or go to one with any burgers being unsupervised or all of them will be made into Krabby Patties, and then thrown away to hide the evidence lol.
And someone mentioned ages 3-10 being hell on Earth for them - same here. However, I think it was birth-10. My boys are 2 years apart and the younger one has more severe autism. Whenever he would have a meltdown, the older one would get stressed and start jumping around and flapping his hands, in public. They're 13 & 15 now, and are still very in tune with each other, but there's not such a sense of chaos now. It does get easier!
I have an autistic cat...
The cat won't eat broken cat food.
I have a cat who is afraid of being alone, so he crawls beneath all my blankets. The only way I know he is there is by the big bump in the middle of my bed. The cat is also afraid of flip-flops :)
Wow... you have the sensitivity and humor of an autistic cat.... Heartless
This is a nice story and all but it really just seems like clever viral marketing.
Well don't get too worried. Most of us still know that Chili's has awful food.
My ten year old son has high-functioning autism. Most people can no longer tell.... they just think he is "quirky". We followed his treatment providers' advice, and we were very, very lucky he ws diagnosed when he was quite young- to expose him to as much as possible so he could deal with the greater environment. I remember taking him to restaurants when he was 2 and 3 years old. The noise and crowding were overwhelming to him. We still took him, and frequently. He at first would sit under the table. Occasionally, a small hand would dart up and snatch food off of the plate set for him. And, my ex-husband and I didn't shorten our meals, didn't leave early, didn't do anything. He was desensitizing. I didn't care that other diners stared and sometimes even told me I was the worst mother in the world. Today, I can take my son into any restaurant, and he utilizes good manners, is polite, courteous, and sits properly at the table. There are so many examples. I am thankful for the great team he had around him when he was young, and also that I have a very thick skin. It was necessary to help my son function better in the world. And, he's now attending a gifted school and making exceptional grades, has tons of friends, and interacts well with others (albeit in a quirky way). I think his autism is a gift.
Thank you for your comment Christy. I have a 4-year old daughter with PDD-NOS, and your comment gives me hope. She's SOOO structured and puts these insane routines on herself that it makes everyone else miserable. Part of it is me being afraid to bring her places because of the fear and anxiety I get of her having a meltdown over something that seems trivial to anyone else. (Ex: If I don't say a certain sentence after she finished her breakfast she has a meltdown.) I'll try to start exposing her to new situations more if it means it might help in the long run. Thank you.
My situation is very similar to yours. My son is also 10 and very high-functioning now too. I always tell people that it would take a lot to embarrass me now bc I had to endure so much public humiliation when my son was young. I was very conscientious about not bothering other people, though, so I had to carry my son out of many Walmarts kicking and screaming back then. The trick is to avoid eye contact and just keep moving out the door, lol! He is wonderful now and, like your son, most people don't even know he has it.
What was the tip for the server?
It made my day to read a positive story for a change. Thank you to everyone involved.
Absolutely. And thank-you very much to the lady and gentleman at the restaurant who behaved in an exemplary manner. We need more people like everyone involved in this story.
Fair enough. Not all autistic kids are the same. Mine is 12 now. What I will say is that my philosophy was a bit like Nicole's all through the years. When he was 3-10 years life was truly a living hell as we worked on getting him through changes, transitions, sounds, new experiences, etc.. But by and by the years of learning that flexibility is part of life have paid off. Its far from perfect but he learned, if very slowly, to be more flexible "go with the flow...bro" as I like to tell him. There's still a long way to go. My personal view is that had my wife and I (and his service providers) conformed the world to his every wish his worldview would harden and today, be virtually impossible to unlearn. Again, every kid is different but as the Chinese say, the longest journey is begun with a single step. Also, we have kept him away from video games and TV as much as possible. That was maybe the hardest part.
You have obviously done an outstanding job with your son. Our greatest challenge with Arianna has been to determine a true autism meltdown and when she is just being a little brat :) She does respond to some disciplinary tactics. A humorous facet to Arianna's personality is that she has taught us the hard way not to say NO! but to find a better way to get the point across. When she was much younger, she tried to lift a tall, slender glass container filled with colorful marbles. The marbles were much too heavy, and because she had the bulk of the weight lifted above her shoulders, the marbles made her slowly start to fall backward. It all happened fast, and before I could stop myself, I said, "NO! Arianna!" and she threw the container to the floor and hundreds of marbles went everywhere! We were just beginning to learn about autism. So now, while Arianna is still in need of almost constant supervision, we have learned more and better ways to make our home safe for her. She has taught us what doesn't work in teaching her, so we have been able to develop some disciplinary measures that work. Her understanding of "broke" is much the same as her inability to understand the difference between dark signifying "bedtime" in winter and "bed-time" while it's still light in summer because light means morning. Broke, to Arianna, is a dish in pieces or a doll's head that can't be fixed. There are complex pathways in the minds of children with autism.
This story made my heart melt and the tears flow. The world would be such a better place if there were more people like Lauren. God bless her.
Loved the story.
This is amazing! Both of my kids have autism, and we son't often go to restaurants. But every time someone commits a small kindness toward my kids, it really does brighten the whole day. What a wonderful story!
I don't really agree with this. My sense would be to gently explain that some burgers come whole, and sometimes they're cut in half. And that's OK too. And actually, yes, I have a son with Autism.
But they aren't always going to understand your reasoning Mike. Not all autistic children are like yours. Mine wouldn't understand. He doesn't understand me when I say I'm going downstairs to get him something and I'll be right back. He's 5 and a half and he simply doesn't understand that I'll be right back. When something isn't right, it's not right, to them. My mother made herself coffee in another cup that her usual cup this AM and my son INSISTED (very anxiously) she use the usual cup. It's just how they can be. We all know our own kids. Yours responds to reasoning, not all do. Hers didn't, mine doesn't. Yet.
It isn't really about reasoning- certainly some kids reason better than others, but it also has a behavioral basis not to accommodate every request a child with autism makes.
I don't mean to overload them with changes, but if you want the child to be flexible you need to expose the child to changes in routine- like using a different coffee cup, like disappearing and then coming back. By fixing it in reaction to the child being upset you risk inadvertently reinforcing the fear. By modeling calmness and not fixing it you can communicate, even to a very young autistic child, that this change is OK.
Nicole. This is exactly what I was trying to communicate even thought I didn't hit "reply" so its outside of this discussion thread. Thank you for putting it so succinctly.
This child wasn't having a "cow", she simply saw it as "broken" and honestly, I don't see the harm in accommodating that one. No one here knows how many stands they make on other issues. Accommodating this instance doesn't mean they accommodate all. Give them leeway. All of us w/ autistic kids know we have to pick battles. What you would choose to make a stand on may be fine for YOUR family, but in this case, I think the family was very gracious as was the restaurant. Besides, they are paying for that burger, isn't it kinder to give the child something to eat as everyone else is eating because dollars to donuts, that little girl wasn't going to eat it. I can't tell you how many places we have eaten where my youngest (the one w/ severe autism) doesn't eat anything. He's got texture issues and a feeding disorder. Getting him to eat ANYTHING is a bonus for us.
Anyway, It's a sweet story. Live and let live. We get too many judgements from society about our autistic kids, lets not start giving it to each other.
You don't have to believe me, but please understand, my son gets a LOT of change to his routine. Some days he handles it well, others...not so much. We don't insulate him. But we also know that giving him a routine to count on has given him a great deal of progress and confidence! He's actually starting to talk now. We all have to do what we know our child responds to. Autism is different for each and every child w/ it.
There are a couple of local tv interviews with Arianna and Anna that show how much she has learned about controlling herself in new situations. The results of all the efforts of everyone who works with Arianna is amazing. One year ago, she could not have been this calm or communicative.
Oh, and this isn't meant to say that the article isn't touching, I think how they responded was great, and not every moment in an autistic child's life has to be a teaching moment! Sometimes there is more than one good solution :-)
You've obviously never tried to drink a cup of coffee with an autistic child falling out on the floor, screaming bloody murder because you're using the "wrong" cup. Sometimes, you just want to drink your coffee in peace.
Nicole P, don't pretend to know what I have or haven't done. I basically raised my autistic brother, without support or special therapies or anything more than what I could read. I was basically handed an 2 year old full time who wouldn't eat solid food (failure to thrive), screamed on the floor whenever his blocks fell (that he compulsively would stack for hours on end), would refuse to walk on shiny floors, would sometimes headbang, and did countless other things that I don't have room to post here. Oh, and while also having a six month old who needed care and, frankly, protection from his brother at times.
And now that 2 year old is a 7 year old who does well in school and for the most part is doing about as well as a child once diagnosed with full autistic disorder (now he is diagnosed with aspergers) could do. Everyone does their best, and certainly the goal shouldn't be to expose a child with autism to every single change you could possibly conceive. HOWEVER, in my experience and the experience of other caregivers, routinely accommodating the child's obsessive need for order only makes that obsessiveness more intense.
I have an autistic brother. Usually my goal is to get him used to things not going his way, expose him to changes in food or routine or whatever, to encourage him to be more flexible. And it works. But, sometimes, it's important to accommodate what he wants, and communicate to him that just like I may want a salad with dressing on the side, he might want a hamburger that is whole, and that is OK.
I have the pleasure of raising Arianna of the broken cheeseburger story. Thanks to the many tireless efforts of teachers, classroom assistants, behavioral specialists, speech pathologists, and our family (we call ourselves Team Arianna), Arianna is learning to focus and learning to control her outbursts. We do not always have success. Arianna's developmental delays are largely caused by her inability to focus. When she is overstimulated, the training she has had often retreats and she becomes overwhelmed. Arianna was born with an extremely rare chromosome disorder that caused heart defects. I have read that only 1 in 200,000 people have this disorder, and geneticists can only cite from five case studies (according to what we were last told). While autism does not have an underlying physical cause, her official diagnosis has placed her on the autism spectrum. Arianna's symptoms all fit the spectrum, but because geneticists are virtually in the dark on Arianna's chromosome disorder, they and we, her family agreed with the autism diagnosis. We had no idea if autistic treatment would help, but we are so excited that she has responded. Two years ago, Arianna had virtually no vocabulary and spoke in gibberish. Every child in the world is different, and this includes children in the spectrum. Every child has a unique back story. We hope that one day, we will be able to reach Arianna in the way you can reach your son. But because there is so little data on the chromosome disorder, we have been told Arianna's development could stop at any time. I am explaining all this because I didn't sense criticsm in your comment. I felt there was an honest curiosity. As Arianna's mama, of course, I want others understand.
The article was very interesting, and so was your information you have a very special little girl.
Thank you. There are a couple of really cute local tv interviews on KSL.com and ABC4 News in Salt Lake City. It shows how well she has learned to behave in situations that make no sense to her because she has never experienced them.
Thank you so much for sharing this story! It is wonderful to know Arianna is surrounded by people who care for her and love her so deeply.
I just wish we'd all gang up this hard to help kids who are genius level. If we put as much timem energy and money into the smart kids as we do into the ones who do need massive assistance to even function minimally, we'd probably have a cure for cancer and a star drive by now.
Our government mandates funding for children with disabilities. We spend, on average, an extra $2000 (roughly) per disabled kid, per year of school. Our government does not mandate funding for gifted children. We spend, on average, an extra $0.02 per gifted child, per year of school.
I understand that disabled kids need extra help. But really, truly, the advanced ones do, too. You can't simply put a smart kid in an average-kid curriculum and expect them to do well. They don't. If they are lucky, their minds simply dwindle until they are no longer smart enough to tell the difference. If not, they become problem kids, drop outs, or worse.
My daughter is a lucky one - we got her classified as disabled (on account of a coordination issue), so the school district is able to channel special attention towards her even though she is advanced. Some of her peers aren't as lucky, and I doubt they will make it to high school.
It is such a shame - an embarrassment, really - that our country cares so little for the very intelligent kids, that we are willing to discard them as if they are worthless. We spend thousands on disabled kids with special needs, but virtually nothing on advanced kids - who also have special needs.
Gee, your stupid comment leads me to believe that you would advocate rounding all these disabled children up and either putting them into a gas chamber or aborting them in the womb if a deficiency is found. Your real last name wouldn't by chance be Hitler, would it?
As a former "gifted child" who attended special classes for the highly intelligent AND as a mother of two children on the spectrum can I just say that your comments are unqualified. Both of my children are highly intelligent but struggle with their social and physical skills. So, does their disability negate their capability? They may very well be the ones who develop a cure for cancer or who solve our energy needs. But for now they need help and I'll be damned if some half-wits will tell me that my children don't deserve a chance to succeed in life.
@ Edwin, check out the Davidson Institute for Talent Development (Google it, and it will come right up).
Loved the story and wanted to share a video that has helped me in understanding what goes on in my son's brain, as he 7 1/2 and is Autistic. http://www(dot)wimp(dot)com/autisticgirl/
Gina, I once got into a long conversation with a woman - a stranger - who was waiting in a doctor's office with her severely autistic son. The son was a large young man in his late teens, and looked older. His behavior was that of a very young and hyperactive child. He made odd vocalizations, got up, sat down, gestured, had to use the restroom every 10 minutes. He could't look anyone in the eye, or communicate. I noticed that one else in the crowded waiting room would look at this kid or his mom. The mother was eager to talk - I could imagine her days caring for her son would be isolating and frustrating - and I learned she was a single parent caring for her son by herself.
I suspect that many people who ignore or rebuff a parent with an unusual child simply don't know how to react. Humans being what they are, I'm sure some of them are purposely unkind...but many are just uncomfortable.
There is no I in team....You and your husband have done such a remarkable understanding of your young child's life. I almost called it a job,yet your Love of this beautiful little girl made me stop and think. Thank You for trying to make us all understand the complexities of being a parent to a child that looks at the world differently than others. They make us laugh and they make us cry,yet.....They Make us Proud.
I don't know if you raised her sister too, but she sounds pretty awesome, so good job!! Thanks for sharing your family's story.
I shared the story with my best friend, whose son has Aspergers. She said, "(His name) refused to eat a desperately desired donut the other day because it was cut in half and therefore 'broken.'"
I've spent a lot of time out in restaurants and at home with them. At home, they might have presented it that way. In public, the resultant meltdown would have greatly disrupted their fellow diners' meal, so they'd have just gotten another. It's some battle-picking in which they have to accommodate their own sanity and that of the people around them.
Those of us with Aspergers managed to get the lucky hand.
Going out to a restaurant is doubly difficult because it's also a very unfamiliar surrounding, sometimes you just don't have enough willpower to manage to act normal.
can't say enough how much I agree with that statement.
I grew up in the seventies, Aspergers was not a word yet. my mother chose to stay at home. and made my life possible. Today I run a business and have great employees who know and understand me. all because of my mother.
But I will never forget after I was diagnosed a few years ago, I told her, she was quiet for so long time.. then finally said. "Your father and I.. we thought we did something wrong, but we never could figure out what it was.... "
There is nothing I can to thank her enough.
Actually the more advanced the species, the more complex its social interactions, and the more likely it is to care for its weak etc. You can't use Darwinian evolution as a basis to advocate the elimination of genetic disparities....genetic "abnormalities" define evolution. Trilobytes didn't have opposed digits which which to type uneducated drivel. Evolution takes generations....besides many of our advances as a species have come from the desire to help the sick or disabled. We have unprecedented control over our environment. Our species doesn't follow the same rules as the hyena. We advance now by manipulating our environment not adapting to it.
Most parents with children on the spectrum understand the phrase "choose your battles wisely".
While it's true we "choose" our battles. I also found that this was an opportunity for both advocacy and change. My son will learn to advocate for himself if he sees me advocating. The numbers of children dx with autism is going up. Therefore, change is needed. Our kids' futures depend on it. So yes.,... this was a battle I chose to fight. The restaurant owner stepped up to the plate and now we eat there again...