The waitress, the autistic girl and the broken hamburger
March 26th, 2013
08:00 PM ET
Share this on:

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.

[soundcloud url="" params="" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

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.

When crying kids disrupt dinner, who ends up paying the price?
Are some diners facing discrimination?
I scream. You scream. Some of us scream for scream-free restaurants
Make your kid more restaurant-friendly

Posted by:
Filed under: Favorites • Kids in Restaurants • News • Restaurants • Service

soundoff (831 Responses)
  1. DB

    I honestly don't see what's so incredible about this story.

    They cut the hamburger in half, which NOBODY ASKED THEM TO DO. You shouldn't do things to peoples' food that they didn't ask you to do...don't put milk in my coffee if I didn't ask for it, don't toast my bagel if I didn't ask for it, and don't cut my hamburger in half if I didn't ask for it. And if you're going to do it anyway, you should be prepared for the possibility that I will tell you I didn't want it prepared that way and I want you to make me a new one at your own expense. It shouldn't matter what my reasons are...I shouldn't have to tell you that I'm allergic to milk and that's why I want a new coffee, and I shouldn't have to tell you that my kid is autistic and finds the hamburger objectionable when it's cut in half. All that matters is that the restaurant took it upon themselves to decide what I wanted, got it wrong, and should give me a new one.

    I think it's great that they were so nice to the girl and all that. But maybe the real point of this story is that this restaurant should stop cutting hamburgers in half.

    March 27, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • DB

      I just want to state for the record that I am *not* the same "DB" that made that rant about parents not disciplining their children.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
      • Karloff

        But you're still a dolt. You dismissed the point of the story in one short sentence. Unbelievable.

        March 27, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
        • DB

          The point of the story is that they were nice to the little girl.

          Isn't everybody supposed to be nice? I'm nice to people, I don't expect it to "go viral" and become a national story.

          March 27, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
        • Karloff

          DB: What are you on? Extra cups of high-octane stupid juice? I read some of your other comments–"DB" is appropriate for you.

          March 27, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
        • DB

          Which other comments? The ones that I didn't make? The ones made by someone else who just happens to be using the same name, which I went out of my way to state wasn't me?

          March 27, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • DB's Mom

      We should do away with everyone named Douce Bag,even tho it is a popular name overseas.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • Elaine

      DB, you are quite a mess. Do you just like seeing your name on the message board?

      March 27, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
      • DB

        I only made two comments.

        March 27, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Dave

      your a douch bag!

      March 27, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
      • DB


        March 27, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • ha

      DB stands for Douche Bag.... nice try buddy.

      March 27, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Conservative Avenger

      FYI, DB or whomever, if you read the story, it explains the burger was cut because it was a kids meal and they were ensuring it was thoroughly cooked. Way to focus on the actual problem :-)

      March 27, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • conrad

      I get the distinct impression that you are likely not a very happy person, and possibly not very pleasant to be around. Here's a hint ... it really shouldn't matter for an otherwise normal person whether you get exactly what you want all the time. Don't allow yourself to be so self serving. A little accidental milk in the coffee on occasion is ok and probably a perfectly human accident on the part of someone trying to do right, and it's so so so small on the scale of things and completely misses what a luxury and blessing it is that we even have such ready access to coffee and all the other things we have. Try to rediscover a sense of gratitude ... life is short, be happy.

      March 27, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Note

      "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.""

      March 27, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • k.m.k

      DB, may I please remind you that they pointed out in the article that the children's hamburgers get cut in half to ensure that they are cooked all the way through. It's not a crime to prepare something a certain way to ensure safety. In your rant, you use irrelevant comparisons. Think before you speak

      March 27, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
    • Dick Henry

      It infuriates me, when I'm brought a beer and a glass in a restaurant, and the waiter starts pouring my beer!

      March 27, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
      • RichardHead@Dick Henry

        Was he standing on the bar with his pants unzipped while pouring?

        March 27, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
  2. Jomm

    WOW the comments on this board never stops to amazes me. Now attacking a autistic child. I wonder how many people on here would say that they are saying on this board to the mother of this child in her face? I think none would do it; but hey, it is easy to stay behind a computer and talk trash when you think you are in hiding. Oh well.

    March 27, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  3. Laura Book

    My family has a dear friend who has autism,and is an adult. He plays classical guitar, and he has additional complications that could be road blocks for him.However, he has composed his own music... and previously, I did an event for my undergraduate degree for children with brain tumors ( i was a child with a brain tumor, myself), and he volunteered to play at the event...he is brilliant, friendly,and works hard to be the best he can be at everything. I am now studying to get a master's in counseling and psychology, with a long term goal to get a PhD and become a mental health advocate and write a book,...but when I read this, I was inspired, happy, and moved to tears. Thank God for people like's the only way to behave, for anyone who celebrates the global community, and wants to continue, the growth of humanity, and our integrity.

    March 27, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
  4. Scott

    I can't belive some of you. This little girl has a disorder. We all have disorders.
    Example: Those that left negative or nasty comments, you are ugly inside. Should you not be allowed to eat at the same place that I do? No!
    This little girl and her family are more then welcome to have dinner with me and my family. I would consider it a honor.

    March 27, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • DB

      Is Chronic Outrage a recognized disorder?

      March 27, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
      • conrad

        Pot meet kettle ...

        March 27, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
  5. edg

    Kids come in all types, from quiet to rowdy to, yes, kids with autism spectrum and other disorders. If you want a totally quiet dining experience unspoiled by kids, find an upscale fine-dining place geared toward adults only. If you go to a family restaurant, don't gripe about the fact that there are kids there, with all the untidiness that that implies.

    Some people in this thread are severely lacking on the compassion front.

    March 27, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • Optimus

      I think it's rather funny that I can't remember the last time I felt like a child even slightly affected my dining experience in a negative manner. Adults on the other hand continue to annoy me on a regular occasion.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
      • conrad

        Same here, I honestly can't remember a single time in life where kids in a restaurant bothered me. I simply think, "that's how kids are ... move along." I did have an 8 year old cousin once whose mother allowed her to take a bite out of all the doughnuts at the table until she found the one she liked, which as a fellow kid at the time I thought it was pretty bad.

        March 27, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
      • SB1790

        A table full of people all individually having loud conversations on their cell phones all at the same time.

        March 27, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  6. Angela Guzzo

    that is a great story. if there were more people like the waitress and her manager that took the time to help this little girl feel special the world would be a happier place.:-)

    March 27, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • SueinCypress

      And other kids, too. Adults should respect children as people. Stop talking at them and talk to them.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
      • Cat

        Autistic or not, you can see the change in a child's demeanor when you talk to them instead of at them–they become more engaged because suddenly they feel like they have value. That's a feeling everyone deserves.

        March 27, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  7. Thor

    After having been in so much physical confrontation all of my life, swimming around oceans, leaving little pieces of myself and others strewn around the battlefield; this actually made a tear fall from one of my eyes. Fascinating.

    March 27, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • conrad

      If you stop fighting for a moment and give enough time and space for it to happen, you'll find that the vast majority of those you fight with would really rather love you.

      March 27, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  8. Advocate

    Article after article, I am tired of seeing children referred to as an 'autistic girl' or 'autistic kid' It's a CHILD WITH AUTISM...I wish the media would learn to use person first language, not disability first. These kids are kids first and foremost, not autistic!

    March 27, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Thor

      Something like "Black American" huh?

      March 27, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Thick-skinned

      Wow. As an "advocate" you'd think you'd choose your battles more wisely. I can't even call this semantics, as you're just worried about how the words are arranged???

      To be clear, I fully support your cause but this post is just silly...

      March 27, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • Anthony Zarrella

      I understand your point, Advocate, but I strongly disagree. I have Asperger's myself, and while I find nothing *wrong* with "person-first" labels like "person with Asperger's," I personally would prefer if there was a good adjective for AS (at the moment, I'm unaware of one).

      "Autistic girl" is no different than "young girl" – she's not defined by her age, but "girl of young age" just sounds clunky and artificial. Likewise, "cancer patient," not "patient with cancer" – the patient is not defined by his or her disease, but it's the natural way to say it. This is *especially* true if the cancer is the point of the sentence – here, the girl's autism is what made the story relevant, so it makes sense to put it first.

      My point is not that "person-first" language is *bad,* but rather that it shouldn't be *required* and that people who put descriptors first aren't necessarily making some bigoted judgment about the person (or even failing to care that their words *might* cause offense). If we're talking race, I'm a white man *or* a man, who is, by the way, white – and I don't care which. If it's ethnicity, I can be an Italian man *or* a man of Italian ancestry. In religion, I can be a Catholic man *or* a man belonging to the Catholic Church. And, to bring it back to the beginning, I am a man with Asperger's, but I'd be just as happy – or more so – being an "Aspergic/-ian/-whatever man" as well.

      My Asperger's doesn't define me, but it's a part of who I am, and if it's the part that's relevant, I don't mind it being emphasized as such.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
      • yup yup

        Anthony, you hit it (very eloquently) on the head!

        March 27, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
      • Cat

        So well-said! I wish there was a way to like or share this.

        March 27, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
      • J

        I too don't see what everyone gets so agitated about. I have lupus – in fact, so severely that it's all but consumed my life since I was about 22. I often speak with others on Twitter and we often refer to ourselves as "lupies." What is truly the difference, or harm done, if I am a "lupie" or a "person with lupus"?

        I'm also Polish. Is it wrong to call myself that, because I'm more than a person of a certain heritage? Should I be calling myself "woman of Polish descent"? Like Anthony says, it just plain sounds clunky. And seriously, let's pick our battles! With all the serious, serious problems plaguing 21st century life, why quibble over the details of semantics?

        March 28, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • Optimus

      Personally, I think the term "child with autism" puts more emphasis on the autism versus the child. Regardless, I think it's going a bit too far in the sensitivity department when you start complaining about whether to use the term "child with autism" versus "autistic child".

      March 27, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • Brandon

      LOL you make NO sense at all! What?? AUTISTIC GIRL or "girl with autism". It's the SAME DAMN thing! AUTISTIC is the adjective form of the word, while AUTISM of the noun form. We can choose to use either form. It makes no difference. It's just the English language. Neither way puts more emphasis on the child being autistic. Just like gay people telling us to stop referring to the current topic as "gay marriage", we HAVE to say gay so people know what we're talking about. Advocate, don't make this world a crazier place than it already is.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • Melanie

      I agree. When is the last time someone refered to a person with lymphoma as "...that cancerous guy." ? We need to remember that the person is more important than the illness. Also, I'm very impressed with the wiatress and the mngr. Most of the time, when dealing with children in public, it's difficult to read how the parents will react to a stranger speaking directly to their children. In most cases, I would prefer adults speak to me instead of addressing my child, as I have no way of knowing if the adult is going to be respectful to my son. In a restaurant, however, I know my son feels proud when he's allowed to order for himself and is treated as a customer rather than a little boy.

      March 27, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
      • Brandon

        The order of the words has nothing to do with what's important. People say African American or gay couple, gay marriage, etc. It's just whether or not you choose to use the adjective form of autism instead of the noun (and saying autistic instead). Why do you think AUTISTIC is in our dictionary??
        Cancerous person? Now that's just dumb to compare it to that. We don't say it that way because the WHOLE person isn't cancerous, just part of him... so he's a person with cancer.
        Stop being so overly sensitive! Are you a woman with retardation? OHH no, I think you're a "retarded woman"!


        March 27, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
        • Gia

          Amen – esp. to that last sentence.

          March 27, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
  9. samsk

    I love all the jabs everyone is taking at each other. Whatever your opinion, which everyone is entitled to, if you are making derogatory comments then you are no better than those who have opinions that are offensive to you. A lot of people are having uneducated arguments here. Maybe we all should learn from that and come back with something better than just calling each other "douchebags". Geez. Control your anger.

    March 27, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  10. DB

    In this day and age where kids are no longer allowed to be corrected or punished, this just makes it more difficult for others to eat at public places where others can get a little peace and quiet and enjoy our food. Parents now adays do not correct or punish their children. Where did all this publicity come from all of a sudden from Autism? Years ago no one ever heard of Austism. Now kids take tantrums if they do not get their way, scream their heads off, and are very disrespectful to others and especially their parents. They grow up to be molesters, theives, etc. because they can't handle the outside world and have to work for a living instead of having everything handed to them. Doesn't it seem coincidental that autism rose just when the punishment of children stopped? Let's get real follks, these are nothing but spoiled kids....they need that old fashioned spanking and not rewarded!!!

    March 27, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • Sharon

      You need help. Do some research on autism and educate yourself.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
    • Daniel

      Its scary to read that there are so many people that still live in the dark ages.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • Sharon

      You are an idiot. I hope you don't have children

      March 27, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
      • bailey'sgranny

        Thank you, you took the words out of my mouth!

        Grandma of autistic five year old.

        March 27, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Karyn H

      It is really amazing to still see that kind of backwards thinking ... maybe the next time, before you type or open your mouth on a subject you obviously have no knowledge of, you take 10 minutes and do a little research.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • just4liberty

      Pure ignorance doesn't deserve a response.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • Mfetty

      I am sorry DB... but your lack of education is showing. Your rant is nothing but a fools raving. Read a book, read a study, read something besides the rhetoric of the narrow-minded.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Daniel

      Before my child answers a question, I ask her to count to ten – I think DB could learn to do the same.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Disgusted with intolerance and nastiness

      To DB and Pete and others who are naysayers of this story: For GOD sakes, please do some research. Your close-minded intolerance makes me ill! These conditions are real. As real as they were in your so-called golden age when kids were punished and pummeled into submission. Children need discipline. Appropriate discipline. Not bullying. Geeeez I get sick of your nastiness after reading a story like this. I wonder..... if you have children, how have they turned out? I'd really like to know. I'm betting they work at low-level, go-nowhere jobs because they've been bullied into believing they have no value.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • Amber

      DB, you are ignorant. So very very ignorant it. Are you actually saying that you have studied the correlation between the rise of autism and when children stopped being corrected? I really wish you could see how unintelligent you seem by making such comments. Autism isn't in fact some minor behavioral issue in which parents just need to correct their children. It is a real mental impairment. I just want to call you ignorant over and over and over and shake my head in your direction while giving you this face that would sure embarrass you.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Bill McFerson

      DB- Thank-you for your comments. They cover well one end of the spectrum. Of course they are off target for a significant group that have profound issues. I wish that your assessment were correct for all situations. Families that struggle with the challenges of autism do as well.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • KLIP

      You disgust me. My only hope is that you're incapable of reproducing.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • KLIP

      DB – you are an insensitive jerk. You seem to have no issue stating that children (autistic or not) should not be allowed to eat in the same place as you. Do you also support Jim Crowe laws? Should blacks not be allowed to eat in your presence as it might make your dining experience less enjoyable? What about Jews? Seriously, you should consider never leaving your own kitchen. Your lack of compassion is foul.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Dad of kids with disABILITIES

      Your name says it all.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Gament

      I find your comment to be very ignorant. I would seriously suggest you research autism and mental disabiltys in general to find out how much harder some people to work at life to be funtional.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • Luke

      Hey DB. Welcome to the 21st century! I guess you're a redneck, who just discovered that some people actually have high school degrees. I know that back in the "old days" people with autism were probably burned as witches or put away – probably still being done in your village... Well, here in modern America, in 2013, things are a little bit different! Again: welcome to the internet, we are all glad that you learned how to read and write!

      March 27, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • KG

      Ignorance is not bliss. Thank God you don't have an Autisic child because you could never understand the difference between being spoiled and having a differently wired brain.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • mim

      Oh Boy. Yes, research on Autism will help you understand a lot. Punishing a child with Autism is disastrous. You will quickly find out that it results in sometimes violent reactions. A "normal" child by your standards gets punished and the reaction is totally different.

      I agree that far too many children are in need of discipline and strong parental guidance these days. What most people don't realize is that boundaries, rules, and non-physical discipline creates in a child a strong sense of security. Unsupervised children typically are looking for boundaries and when non are given, an insecure child is produced. Not in every case, but this is quite apparent as one who is a psychologist.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • photogrrl

      Wrong. People with autism have been around for a very long time. They were often misdiagnosed as mentally ill or mentally retarded in the "old days." I have a cousin in his late 50s who was correctly diagnosed with autism at age 5. Just because YOU don't know it, understand it, or have compassion for people whose children/relatives have it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • accordingtozai

      DB, I'm not going to tell you how ignorant you are, and I'm not going to tell you to never reproduce. I think everyone else has that covered. But if you were to do a bit of research, you would learn that autism was an unnamed condition as early as the 17th century, and was an identifiable by name in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Huh... wasn't that a time when it was still socially acceptable to spank kids and parents were much more no-nonsense?

      I'm under 20 years of age so I'm all too aware of the slack my peers and young children are cut. I'm also well aware of the fact that a good deal of kids are spoiled rotten and throw tantrums when they don't get their way. That's different from behavior stemming from a neurological disorder. Just because we no longer throw individuals with autism in asylums and chain them to the wall does not mean the condition doesn't exist. It's the 21st century. Don't embarrass yourself by posting completely uninformed crap.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
      • Luke

        Thanks for the info. For DB, I would also add two interesting internet sites. One is G O O G L E (fairly new company) type on your keyboard and then autism. The other would be: W I K I P E D I A (there are quite some people who have heard of this one). Type and then autism. Be sure you choose ENGLISH as you language – after al DB,l we don't want you to get more confused than you're already are. Good luck L E A R N I N G !!!

        March 27, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • Truth™@DB

      Does DB stand for d!ckbrain? If so you are most aptly named...

      Do everyone here a favor. Take a handful of rock salt, and pound it high and hard.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
      • Elaine

        I am in tears laughing at this....hilarious.

        March 27, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
      • Home Depot@Truth

        Due to a severe snow storm across the upper United States,we are currently in short supply of rock salt......may we recommend sulfuric acid instead?

        March 27, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • Elaine

      DB...You're extremely offensive. Aspergers is a real disorder, autism is real. It's not learned behavior, nor "bad" behavior, but YOUR behavior is however bad and inappropriate. I have a son with Aspergers. He was different from birth. Newborns know nothing, so they can't have been allowed to get away with anything. My son has a genius IQ...can't say the same for yours. Too many people, loud noises (he can actually hear the lighting buzzing and used to have to wear ear protection) make it so uncomfortable for them. You know something...if you don't like how my son acts in a restaurant or in a store when he has a're at liberty to leave. I absolutely dare you to approach the parents of a child having a meltdown out in public and mention your ignorant, rude, jack@$$ statement to them. Watch how everyone around you tells YOU off and defends the child with autism. Aspies hate being hyper sensitive. You have a very misplaced sense of entitlement. Do get over your biggoted self. I pray I have a jerk like you be fool enough to tell me my autistic son has behavior problems some day......It will be my pleasure to humilate you or them to tears and to hear applause for my son and me from the people who hear it.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • Baalzabarber

      YOU are a broken burger

      March 27, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • ivebeenblessedby5

      I truly feel sorry for you.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • Jomm

      I agree with your statement if you were talking about misbehaving children ONLY DB; however, your statement does not apply to a child with Autism.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • Brenda

      Well, DB aren't you just a picture of intelligence? *cough* *cough* My son has autism and let me tell you, he is not a spoiled brat nor is he babied or allowed to be disrespectful anymore than my other children. BUT he does have very real meltdowns and has to be dealt with in a different way than his typically developing peers. I hope, DB, that you aren't a parent and never become one. You are a pathetic idoit.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Daveyman

      Until you have a child with autism and experience what my wife and I have you can shut the hell up. I wished it was only a tantrum of some undisciplined child but for me it's a real experience I deal with day after day. It's challenging but I love my son (who is autistic) just the same. I know exactly what the family is going through in this son has aversion to any "veggies" on his burger and has a grand mal meltdown when it is brought out that way by mistake.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Mike

      I can only suspect that "DB" stands for DoucheBag.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • conrad

      If you'd ever been around autistic children you'd know immediately they are not simply spoiled children. Something is definitely going on in their bodies/brains that isn't simply a result of parenting.

      March 27, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • Some Catholic Guy

      DB is right about one thing though.... I, too, *NEVER* heard of autism when I was a kid. If they didn't know about the disease then and didn't know what to label it, I somehow didn't go to school with any of these undiagnosed kids. If they *did* know about the disease then, it must have been very rare at that time. Rare enough that I didn't know anyone with it and didn't hear it on the news or hear my family ever mention it.
      Why am I hearing about so many cases now? There are even Special Ed teachers that have strictly autistic children. We just had a special ed class; no autism class.

      March 28, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
  11. Pete

    This little girl will be extremely annoying when she gets older.

    March 27, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • Mike R

      No more annoying than you! I have an Autistic daughter that is a straight A student and is delightful in every way (more than a lot a people I know).

      March 27, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
    • Mater D.

      That's what your Momma said about you while I was with her last night.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • Landru

      That is the extent of what you took away from this piece?

      March 27, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • JonfromLI

      I would take 100 of her over half of you.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • Jason Miller many not know me but I have autism. As someone with autism, I find your comment insensitive and distasteful. I have worked hard over the years and with lots of support, I fit in quite well within today's society. I used to be like the girl in the article, but I made a choice to work on my behavior and to try to fix what was considered abnormal with me. I hope for someone like you that you learn to be more tolerant of others...not just for your sake, but for everyone else's.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • Daniel

      Wake up and smell the river.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • Zeth

      I am sure that this child will be much more well behaved, more educated, and more human than you are at this very exact moment.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  12. Mike A.

    I wanted to say that I am sitting here with tears in my eyes, both of laughter and of complete understanding because I have been going to Chili's in Milford, CT. for a number of years now with my now seven-year-old autistic son and his neuro typical sister of nine.

    The first few visits to Chili's with my two children as a single dad were difficult at best. The typical leering, stares looks of why is your child so disruptive and the feeling of being utterly the Bain of everyone's existence In the restaurant eventually turned into a fantastic experience.

    The staff at Chili's has come to know and understand my son and his sister and what goes into having a lunch or dinner At the restaurant with the two of them. I have servers that will come over and visit us from other sides of the restaurant just to check in and see how everybody is doing and to say hi to Brody who is preverbal at this point in time.

    As Brody has matured the amount of chaos that has ensued has lessened as has the disaster area that was usually left behind by a autistic child that was not used to using forks and knives and ate everything by hand and really didn't understand the concept of napkins Except for the purposes of shredding as a stim!

    I now do the call ahead seating and leave about a half hour window before our arrival to hopefully guarantee that we are at the front of the waiting line at least on the clipboard at the hostesses station when we arrive. Many of the servers that Nealous already have placed the standing order Brody and my daughter before they have even come to say hello.

    Those that don't know what's either get an introduction by myself or what is even funnier is when they are accompanied by another member of the staff that has served us before and have been given a little insight into who we are and what our meal will be about.

    The staff is always very attentive to our needs, including any small additional seemingly Non-run-of-the-mill requests for additional this or additional that or to take something away from the order.

    In the case of my local chilies, one of the waitresses actually came to sit with us one day and started asking me questions about autism as it may have related to her young child who had yet to be diagnosed but after observing Brody was seeing similar behaviors.

    As a result of time spent with us and opening a dialogue between myself and her and allowing her to see Brody and his sister on almost a weekly basis she then had her child Evaluated and he was found to also be on the spectrum.

    We remain both friends in Chili's and out of Chili's due to the common bond that was created by Brody and our frequenting of the Chili's restaurant.

    If there was an award or commendation that could be the stowed upon certain facilities including restaurants that are autism friendly and just seem to get it, then Chili's would be at the top of my list!


    March 27, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • Don

      Mike, you are obviously a wonderful father.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  13. Farran925

    As a parent who has gone through meltdowns in restaurants with my own autistic son, this is a sweet, touching and profoundly impactful story to the many parents like myself who cope with these issues in any public venue. Bravo Chilli's for embracing Arianna and her family the right way. Your national chain could use some lessons from this manager and young woman – perhaps there might be a management opportunity for her with HR training using her Psychology degree!

    March 27, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  14. Yakman2

    Great Story!!!

    March 27, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
  15. Jackie Weiler

    In December 2012, I ran into a negative experience at a local Sushi Restaurant. We were regulars at the restaurant. One visit my 3 yr old son with High Functioning Autism was having a hard day. He began playing with rice and water.. He has a lot of sensory issues. He threw some rice on the floor and was splashing the less than 1/4 water on the table. I quickly cleaned it up, explained to the waitress who also serves as the host that he has autism. She didn't say anything.

    A few weeks later I returned to this restaurant with my mother and son. My son is very active and was squirmy. THe waitress recognized us and offered to allow us to take advantage of the "happy hour" rate and to take the food home. I thought this was a nice accommodating and thanked her. I explained that it's sometimes hard going to restaurants as my son has autism. Upon returning to the restaurant to pick up my food the waitress asked me to not bring my son into the restaurant that I should come alone. I asked her if she really meant this as this is against the ADA law as my son has autism. I asked her if she understood what that meant and she made the gesture (finger twirling on the head) that he was crazy. I replied yes, it's a neurological disorder but he's not crazy. Again she didn't say much. I walked out and as I was walking to the car I felt like I let my son down. I told my mom that I needed to go back.

    I returned to the restaurant and asked the woman to speak to the owner. She told me that she was the owner. At this point people were looking at us. I looked around and told them flat out what was going on that she didn't want me to bring my 3 yr old autistic son into the restaurant. Everyone began to complain. I told the woman that I was going to call the police. She didn't care. I knew that she didn't do anything "Criminally wrong" but that I could get a civil standby and have this incident documented.

    To make a long story short. The woman was not the owner. The real owner came and the police wrote and incident report. The following Monday (this occurred on a Friday) I contacted a local disability advocacy group. They agreed to help me and we met with the owner and explained the ADA law and how I felt I was discriminated against. He was unaware of the complexity of the law. I offered to not file a Dept of Justice complaint if he did the following 1) ADA training for all of his staff, 2) ADA assessment of his restaurant and lastly 3) write an apology that can be published in the advocacy group's newsletter. He agreed and did complete all . He also decided to give $500 to the autism charity of my choice.

    While I could have filed a complaint I decided to use the event as an opportunity for education, change and advocacy. The initial incident was negative but the outcome was positive. A restaurant owner was educated on the law, he recognized that his restaurant wasn't in compliance and instituted a new accommodation policy. As a result of my actions I know that there is one restaurant that we can go to that we will not be discriminated against. I urge parents of special need kids to speak out and advocate for their kids as a lot of times these events can become opportunities for change and advocacy.

    March 27, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Shocked

      Bah, silly Asians, what do you expect?

      March 27, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
      • Robert

        Wow. That wasn't at all racist.

        March 27, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • Don

      I would have demanded that he fire the waitress also.

      March 27, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
      • Optimus

        I concur with you. The attitude the waitress has isn't something that ADA training would fix.

        March 27, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • Lass97

      I think you should take a hint and respect a business owner that doesn't want damage or loss of customers. A neurological disorder is not the same as a person in a wheelchair. I have seen an autistic child smash a $2000 china cabinet. My child had her hair pulled daily by an autistic child at school until I moved her. It's nice when someone shows compassion but don't insist other people take on what you brought into the world.

      March 27, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  16. TheLeftCoast

    If you have an autistic child in northern California, Dr. Sanford Newmark at UCSF is the best pediatrician you'll find.

    March 27, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • Jackie Weiler

      Thanks. I'll heck into him.

      April 4, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
  17. FormerChilisEmployee

    This is a sweet story (although 100% put out there by Chili's PR) but seriously people, don't eat at Chili's! Not only is their food incredibly unhealthy but they don't even have a grill anymore! Chili's Bar and GRILL does not have a grill! They have a conveyor belt that shoots precooked food through an oven. The grill marks on the chicken is merely edible paint! They call it 'The Kitchen of the Future' aka 'the same kitchen as your local Quiznos'.

    March 27, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • RichardHead

      Well that explains why I can't get my " Chili's Trip " any more.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
      • Daniel

        And Richard, you can definitely still get your Chili's Trip! I ordered one the other day for one of my bar regulars. They still grill the hamburger on the flat top, which keeps the juices in the meat instead of draining it like a grill, and can add the sauteed onions and Terlingua Chili. If they told you they couldn't make it last time you tried to order it, they must have not known what it is. Just order an Oldtimer hamburger with cheese, chili, and sauteed onions. I'm sure it will be just as good as you remember!

        March 27, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
        • RichardHead@Daniel

          Thanks for your reply, The Trip as I used to call it was one of the BEST burgers on the planet. An ice cold beer,a pretty waitress and chili,cheese and onions can't be beat. Thanks again.

          March 27, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
        • KY

          Oh Daniel...just a cog in Brinker's machine..

          March 27, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Daniel

      They do not have an actual grill anymore, but they still have the Flat top stove which they sear the steaks and cook the burgers on. Other items such as ribs, quesadillas, and chicken entrees get baked through a convection oven now instead of grilled. It actually adds more crispiness to the quesadillas, more juiciness to the chicken, and more tenderness to the ribs. It makes better food. Let's not just label it as a "conveyor belt'. It's basically just baking the food instead of grilling it. There is nothing wrong with it and if it makes the food taste better, than so be it.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
  18. Sheila

    I think this family did very well, the child did very well, and the staff did very well. Everyone involved was satisfied, patrons that were not involved were clueless. That's all I ask – that when I go to a restaurant, spending my hard earned money to relax and eat and talk with friends, that everyone around me handles situations well. But why is it wrong of me to want a quiet, relaxed experience at a restaurant? I'm sorry, but I really don't want someone growling while they eat sitting next to me.

    March 27, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Mater D.

      Your table for one is now available in our exclusive Dog Park.

      March 27, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Anna

      Totally agree with you Sheila

      March 27, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • Sandy

      Chili's is a "family" restaurant. If you don't want to hear somebody growling (or kid's chatter at all) please stay home.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Shayla

      I totally agree. Just as people with unruly kids (whether disable or not) want to enjoy their experience, so do I. Just as its not fair for me to judge your child as unruly, it's not fair for you to expect me to complain when I can't have an enjoyable lunch/dinner. Oh and Chili's usually have a great staff and great customer service.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Nick

      You have the right you want a peaceful, relaxing dinner out with family or friends, but those who have an autistic child also have to right to go out to eat. You never know when an outburst is going to happen or how severe an outburst will be. Families who have an autistic member just can't sit at home because of the dear that the child may have an outburst. It Happens. So yes you have your right but so do they.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • john

      Sheila, don't go to Chili's if you want a dining experience. Also, you're an a$$h0le.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • sorry about your luck

      Sorry, but nobody has a "right" to an enjoyable night out at a restaurant. You have a right to an enjoyable night, you have a right to eat, but no right to have them in a business. When you enter a business where other people have a right to go as well, you have NO "right" to the children at the table next to you behaving. You can have the expectation, the hope, the wish for this, but you don't have a right to it. Someone interfering with your true rights can be arrested, such as kidnapping, using a city bus, etc. But when you're in that restaurant, the people around you can do anything they want that's legal. They can laugh too loud, then can discuss political views you don't like, they can order food which has a smell that makes you physically ill. And if their children don't behave in a way that you deem acceptable, too bad for you. If it's legal, that's that. Sure, I don't want to listen to some kid being a spoiled brat next to me at dinner either. And I might ask to move to a different table. But I don't have a right for that kid to be quiet, and I don't even have a right to another table. My rights in this case are simple: to ask for another table, and to leave if I'm not happy.

      March 27, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Elaine

      Sheila, or does your majesty work better for you? What makes you so special? If you want to be in a place where you're entitled to anything....stay home because that's they only place you're special enough to warrant any expectation of anything. Unless you're entering a private club to which membership is required....honey, you're just like the rest of us common people....when you enter a PUBLIC with whatever the public has to offer at that time. I happen to BE a member of a private country club..and have had non-club members (guest of a member) removed for acting like idiots. But I pay a great deal of money each month for the privilege to be able to ask for some idiot woman to be removed from my club. Now...I happen to have a son who is autistic. He is highly functioning and we have never been asked to leave our country club, or any place actually. Once at a Bennigans some 400 pound woman commented about my son coughing and what she preceived as not covering his cough..which I want to point out she did with a mouth full of food like some trailer park hillbilly......before it was over...she was crying and wearing another patrons drink upon her ugly head after the person told her 3 time my son was covering his cough and her tacky remarks back got her a head, face, and lap full of a huge iced tea.....I bought that person's dinner. :) oh..and the rude woman...was asked to leave and when she tried to leave without paying....they made her pay. Now, your are entitled to this is a public...not private forum.

      March 28, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  19. Fiona

    This refusal to eat food that's "broken" is not limited to autistic kids. One of my nephews would refuse to eat toast or sandwiches that were cut. He wasn't a spoiled child,– he just didn't like anyone bothering his food. He was like that from an early age and he grew out of it because no one ever made a fuss over his quirks, so he never learned to "use" the fussiness to his advantage.

    March 27, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • Grumpster

      Your nephew needs a kick in the *ss and a trip to some impoverished place to learn not to be such a spoiled rotton brat.

      March 27, 2013 at 11:55 am |
      • Scott

        What an idiotic thing to say. Go back under your rock and disappear.

        March 27, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
        • Shocked

          I'm finding there are a lot of idiotic people commenting on this article. Then again, 2/3rds of America is retarded, so I didn't expect much

          March 27, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
        • really nice

          hey "shocked", your using the word "retarded" to insult others shows just have intelligent, caring and understanding you are. Loser.

          March 27, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • yeah, but

      yeah, but if his parents had just said "yes, it's been cut, but that doesn't change it or hurt you" and left it at that, and not replaced it, he would have grown out of it even faster.

      March 27, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
      • Fiona

        Excuse me? Who said his food was "replaced"? If he refused to eat something he was ignored. His food wasn't cut up for him - that was the only change. His preferences were noted. But no one reacted if he fussed, so the behavior extinguished over time. It's basic behavior modification, used in animal training as well.

        March 27, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  20. ID

    That's ridiculously cute. Definitely put a smile on my face for the day. lol

    March 27, 2013 at 11:27 am |
  21. Melinda Hall

    I can relate all to well. I have an Autistic 4yr. old girl and Autistic 12 yr. old boy. This story fits our 4 yr. old to a tee. AND yes, we are continually stared at, asked to leave and encounter rude people with her, We don't mind at all talking about her and Autism but rolling of the eyes, muffles under the breath or comments and kindness and patience goes out the window. All parents and loved ones want for the Autistic is UNDERSTANDING and AWARENESS! God Bless

    March 27, 2013 at 11:25 am |
  22. Lynne

    The story is wonderful and reminds us all that we need to take time to care and show it. I wish that people with disabilities or their families would try not to be overly sensitive about the reactions around them. It would save them and others hurtful emotions. Here's my point, when you are hurt because you think someone is staring, please know that it may be a natural curiousity and not intended as mean. If someone moves away from a screaming child in a restaurant, they have a right to have a quiet, relaxed meal, and don't necessarily intend anything mean with their action. Let's have consideration for each other on both sides. Think the best of others whenever possible. Again, the restaurant employees were wonderful!

    March 27, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Liz


      March 27, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
  23. anony

    You KNOW Chili's PR people pushed this story out.
    Just like that fake Olive Garden receipt that just surfaced on Reddit.

    March 27, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Joycelgr

      Don't care whether Chili's PR posted or least the waitress was kind enough to make the little girl smile....and I am glad that the story was posted...You could have a little compassion for the autistic child.

      March 27, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • Fiona

      Yep. Hence the use of the "Midvale team members heroes." Straight out of marketing. Blech.

      March 27, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • Scott

      The olive garden thing was real. I spoke directly with their PR department and they did confirm it. They also refused to take any criticism of their awful policies seriously.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
      • Scott

        Sorry, I meant to say applebees, not olive garden.....

        March 27, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  24. rettiroen

    I have one problem with this, don't get me wrong, I love the story, love how the people handled it and love the message that we need to be more understanding. But I feel the story pushed a little too much one way.

    "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.”"

    I think they need to realize that people all have differing emotional and psychological needs and abilities. Some can't or don't want to deal with a screaming child, for whatever reason, and it's perfectly valid and okay for them to seek to move to a different section of the restaurant if possible.

    March 27, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • Fiona

      I agree that there is an offensive, implied "tut tut" in that comment. I know parents with kids who fall within the autism spectrum and the parents wield that label as a sort of rapier, looking for slights against their children where there are none. You can't win with parents (mostly moms, in my experience) like that. They do their kids a disservice.

      This little incident was handled with compassion, and I am glad to hear about it. Where they lose me, though, is with the use of the the word "hero." Nothing about this is heroic. It's about a small kindness. That's all.

      March 27, 2013 at 11:22 am |
      • Steve

        Very nicely put.

        March 27, 2013 at 11:33 am |
      • HumanD

        Unfortunately, encountering flexible, understanding individuals which do nice things for others regardless of any disabilities is about as rare as encountering a hero.

        March 27, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
      • TK

        that waitress saved the day in the eyes of that little girl, she most certainly is a hero.

        March 27, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Lynne


      March 27, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • Theresa

      Thank you. My son has Autism and luckily, for the most part he is able to eat at a restaurant without incident. However, because of his sensory issues, we would not be able to sit next to a growling or crying person. We would have to move, but we would be moving because of own issues, not the person growling or crying. :)

      March 27, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  25. Sam

    HOW can people complain about a moment of human compassion? It is easy to say that "proper parenting" would "fix" things. It is almost as easy to either "discipline" relentlessly and arbitrarily or to just ignore the child. It is individual attention, judgement and problem solving specific to a child's needs that is tough.

    March 27, 2013 at 10:59 am |
  26. SomthingsGottaChange

    "Wells graduated from the University of Utah in May 2012 with a degree in psychology." Just a side note on this story, the server, Ms. Wells has a degree in Psych and is waiting tables? That's kinda sad. Indicative of the state of the economy? Something else?

    March 27, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • Dr.Phil

      Ms.Wells is a Genius..Let me put it into perspective--She gets to counsel Depressed,fat Lard Azzes stuffing fried food into their pie holes without the help of ObamaCare. She is one step ahead of forced Health Care,by being there.

      March 27, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • yeah, but

      A bachelors in psychology isn't very useful really. Hopefully she's pursing a masters and then a doctorate, and the table waiting is paying her way a bit.

      March 27, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Fiona

      A psychology degree is preparation for a graduate degree or a certificate program. On its own it's just a generic humanities degree.

      March 27, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
  27. Deacon Blues

    As the parent of an autistic son who will try and kick out the windows of our car if he doesn't get exactly 5 things of ranch from the Burger King, this story nearly brought me to tears. Awesome that people like these Chili's employees still exist in today's world.

    March 27, 2013 at 10:48 am |
  28. Pete

    I could go for a burger after reading that.

    March 27, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • can't resist

      I could go for a waitress right about now.

      March 27, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  29. Brad

    This story brought a smile to my face.

    March 27, 2013 at 10:43 am |
  30. wellness driller ESQ

    "the great thing about science is that it's true whether you beleive in it or not"

    March 27, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • hahaaalright

      Yes, and the entire universe is centered around the Earth. Geocentric theories were a "scientific fact" for a time. Even science is flawed. We could discover something that will turn everything we know on its head in an instant.

      March 27, 2013 at 10:52 am |
      • Sam

        Science is fine. We are flawed. We love to twist facts to support what we want to beleive, or ignore the scince that disagrees. Actuall facts don't care what we want. They just sit there waiting for us to pay attention.

        March 27, 2013 at 11:03 am |
        • Sam

          Spelling is great too. If only I could master it.

          March 27, 2013 at 11:06 am |
  31. t3chsupport

    When you give someone a label before they even get to know your child, then they are picking up on the cue YOU ARE GIVING THEM to not treat them the same as other children. Not knowing how to treat them (all autistic kids are different) will usually mean they will ignore the kids and just talk to the parent.

    If your kid is in a good enough mood to go out for lunch, leave the labels at home. If she freaks out in public, then she does, let people think what they want. Regardless of what's going on in your head, if you have people treating you different from other people your whole life, you are going to always be different! Pick whether you want 'special' or 'normal', and go with it. You can't actually do both.

    March 27, 2013 at 10:11 am |
  32. momoftwoautism

    Kids with autism do not get over things like other kids do. Their brains do not work that way. They tunnel vision on something that upsets them and their minds get stuck like a needle in a scratch on an long playing record. You can apply all the negative reinforcement you want but it will not change the way they react. No it is not normal. No it is not reasonable to the neurotypical world. Sometimes to get them unstuck you have to work with them and sometimes the most imaginable thing will upset them. My daughter went to a Dinosaurs Alive show with robotic dinosaurs towering over her and roaring and biting into other dinosaurs and it did not phase her one bit when she was little. About the same time she saw an America's Funniest Video clip where a chicken sat on a heating/cooling unit and when it blew out the chickens feathers fluffed out like it had suddenly expanded. She had nightmares for weeks and still isn't a big fan of chickens yet. You can't tell what will upset them first of all. There is no reason to blame the parents for not knowing. Secondly, in a public place you do what need to do to keep the child calm. I am sure the parents would have gladly paid for another burger and put up with any attitude the server presented if things had gone that way. It is easy to say that these kids need to be controlled and fault the parents. I have two of them and you do what you have to do. At home maybe have her watch you cutting sandwiches and ask her to take a bite and see if they taste any differently. Have her help prepare sandwiches at home so she can see the ingredients are the same whether they are cut or not.

    The child in this story did not throw a fit which would have been cause for a much different reaction from the parents or strike out which is unacceptable and the parents would've immediately addressed. No angry belligerent outbursts are inappropriate and most parents with autistic kids will tell you that it's not the fact they react but how they manage their reaction that is important. We spend a lot of time talking about what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. Usually there is a chart from 1 to 5 on how upset they are. If they really feel they can't handle things and feel like they are going to "volcano" they are taught to tell the adults around them they are about to blow. It then becomes the adult's responsibility to take the child to a quiet area (restroom, to the car, outside the restaurant) so that the reaction is not going to bother anyone else. She just didn't eat the burger and cried a little and really that is a pretty calm response to an upset. Seeing that everyone else's was whole too, contributed to her perception that she had received a "broken one" and had been slighted. Actually I could see a neurotypical kid feeling she got one that was not up to standard with everyone else's too and crying.

    I don't expect the whole world to change for my kids. I do however really appreciate when the world gives me a break and does its best to understand them–like in this story–instead of judging them. Believe me, we don't want our kids spoiled so that everything revolves around them. We want them to live in the world reasonably.

    March 27, 2013 at 10:10 am |
  33. RichardHead

    There is one thing a lot of people seem to be missing in this fine story....this little girl is Loved. Her parents Love her enough to take her into a public place knowing before hand that a problem might arise. Just because she was not born " normal " as seen by today's society,she is a shining star in my eyes. I too have an autistic nephew and we will always be Best Buds.He holds down a full time job at his local grocery store,graduated High School,, and can drive a modified golf cart around his neighborhood better than I can. Sure,he has bad days just like the rest of us,yet he knows that he is loved by many,many people. So to the parents...keep up the good work through the struggles of everyday life...and to the waitress...You are Blessed.

    March 27, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • Truth™@RichHead

      Well said Bro!

      March 27, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • Kat Kinsman

      RH – look at the bottom of the comments. There's a lovely note from a woman who works with and moreover very much loves young Miss Arianna. I may have teared up reading it.

      March 27, 2013 at 11:25 am |
  34. I'm an Ignorant Human...

    Well there's 20 minutes of my life I'll never get back, what a waste of time! Too bad her parents won't ever know what it's like to raise a normal child. Always having to be cautious about what might set her off. Good food wasted. Another starving person could have had that burger! People say that this children like this are "glorious", "special", "god's gifts". They're a waste of time, space, and resources. Children with disabilities that will never grow up to contribute to society, will be a constant money pit, etc should all be destroyed as soon as their disability is identified. This world would be better off without them. And there would be less idiotic sob stories like this one for us to waste our time on.


    March 27, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • to the idiot

      You are not only ignorant but also exceedingly stupid. For your sake and the good of the society I hope you never have children, let alone sick ones.
      And calling yourself HUMAN??? You're a disgrace to the human race

      March 27, 2013 at 10:17 am |
      • That's a troll

        That's a troll, dude. Please don't feed the troll.

        March 27, 2013 at 10:41 am |
      • Blessed73

        Well said!

        March 27, 2013 at 10:47 am |
      • Legit Mikehawk

        Sir, he is not trolling. What the individual above you said is entirely accurate. The over-privileged and small-minded trash in America who have no sort of world view or awareness outside of their country would do well to walk a mile in the shoes of a child or a family living right now in a third world country. We have enough humans on this rock, if we had half a brain we'd begin chucking the damaged ones off of it, or rather we'd use them for fuel or some otherwise constructive purpose.

        March 27, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
        • Ryan

          I'm have autism (aspergers syndrome) and what makes you think "we" are a waste of space? I am currently working towards a degree in veterinary medicine and currently maintain many rare highland plants. I work a a bankruptcy law firm as a computer technician and secretary. I've done many more things to help better the planet and still have many of the same problems others on the spectrum have to deal with. Life is not easy living with autism but I make do. One last thing, many of the great ideas that changed humanity for the better came from people with mental disabilities. :)

          March 27, 2013 at 6:55 pm |
    • Doug

      Ummm, wow dude, your last name must be Hitler.

      March 27, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • FreddyCanuck

      Well. I really don't know how to respond to your dribble. All I can assume is that you were abused as a child (and deserve to be abused as an adult, too). I pray that you have no children who might try to emulate you as they grow up. I know "emulate" is an awfully big word for a moran such as yourself, but look it up in the dictionary.

      March 27, 2013 at 10:23 am |
      • Steve

        His comments are indeed drivel, and perhaps they were dribbled.

        March 27, 2013 at 10:37 am |
      • Michael Jameson

        To respond to the dribble, maybe you could shoot a three-pointer. Or did you mean "drivel"?

        Who knows.. you're obviously a "moran"! Err.. I meant MORON =D

        March 27, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Kacee

      human is not a term I would use to describe you, you low life piece of crap.

      March 27, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • Truth™

      Please kill yourself. Before lunch if possible.

      March 27, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • SassyMiss

      You are the waste of space...take your poor attitude elsewhere.

      March 27, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • Doug

      By the way – it took you 20 minutes to read this?!

      March 27, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • He

      is pulling your leg people ;-)

      March 27, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • Marcus

      You're not only a 'broken human being' but a 'broken cheeseburger too'. Sorry your glass is always '1/2 empty'.....

      March 27, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • You people...

      need to learn to recognize a joke. I think the wink at the end gave it away.

      March 27, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • Brad

      Ya need to lighten up, didn't you see the winking smiley face at bottom of paragraph, he/she/it was being sarcastic.

      March 27, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • Lulu

      While I realize, atleast am hoping, that you wrote that just to get an uproar from people, it was EXTREMELY innappropriate! All children are blessings because they are Gods creations and deserve respect. Which you drastically lack! I pray that you never get blessed with a child because your humor alone shoulld never be procreated.

      March 27, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • J.J.

      if that were the case with humanity, one can only assume you would not be here to write this, but would have been destroyed long ago ... what an azzhat!

      March 27, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • Kate

      You're disgusting and a coward. How easy to post negative comments without using your real name. Someone like you isn't worth the dirt on the bottom of my shoe.

      March 27, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • Jim

      I know countless "normal" people who contribute nothing to society.

      March 27, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • lovetohike

      You're an ass and have no idea what it's like for these kids! I have a 9 year old with autism and with the sensory disfunction problems alone going to walmart for him feels like sitting on the front row of a rock concert with a lazier show would for the rest of us! I pray that you never have a child with delays or for that matter never have a child. You are intolerant and unloving! Children with autism are angels in this world who can't express themselves like typical people and are bright and brilliant! You are missing out on interacting with these amazing people who could change your life!

      March 27, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • DrJStrangepork

      Who watches your bridge when you come out from under it to post comments?

      Obviously... these people were lucky they got a server that can handle interfacing with people. Not all staff at restaurants care to do this, as it can be nuanced and time consuming. I am happy the kid (and family) avoided a "bad" day.

      March 27, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • Conservative Avenger

      Pha Que

      March 27, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • chiv86

      It's sad that not only did you fail to find the positives of this story but you failed to comprehend English. The first paragraph explains how this little girl was with her sister and her sister's husband.

      March 27, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • I'm an Ignorant Human...'s amazing how many people didn't get the sarcasm. The title is "I'm an Ignorant Human..." and the ":-)" at the end didn't give it away?

      I guess it goes to show how any people completely read something, comprehend it, then post their opinions.

      And no...I'm not a troll. But the peach fuzz growing longer on my ears might suggest I have at least essence of troll. :-)

      March 27, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
      • Lulu

        You may have been joking but the way you wrote the comment did not suggest you were. Do us all a favor, never have children, because as I said before, your humor should not be duplicated. and second NEVER comment again because your a devilish person.

        March 27, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
        • Lighten up a bit. Read, analyze, understand, then provide an opinion.

          Well, at least 3 people in the reply thread got it for what it was, SARCASM. Everybody else immediately snapped to judgement, negative comments, and so on. Too many people spout opinions before understanding the full intent of the message. Seems like this guy deserves to have many kids to me. Words written down in sarcasm mean the exact opposite. If that is true, looks like a stand-up well rounded person.

          March 27, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
      • HEYDUDE

        Sarcasm is rarely transmitted well in text, especially when its fools on the www. Next time maybe dont write an entire novel sarcastically and maybe ppl wouldnt take it as someone speaking their mind. Lets face it, there ARE ppl who think the way you wrote, all you did was try to make yourself look ike one of them.

        March 28, 2013 at 10:08 am |

      I know a few reasons to terminate you! Lets say we do it!

      March 28, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • Elaine

      Why...yes, you ARE an ignorant human being. Hmmm...drain on society? My son with aspergers doesn't get an SSI check.....We've never received WIC, foodstamps, medicare...nothing. His father makes well over 6 figures a year....I make half of what he makes.......if our son DID receive SSI...guess what dip$h!t....we pay enough in taxes...yeah, we're in the top 3 % for the entire country. How much to you make?? You think the parents of these children, or adults don't work? What a schmuck.

      March 29, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Warhammer


      Good sarcasm, very creative! Lots of people replying to this comment need to lighten up.

      April 2, 2013 at 4:06 pm |
  35. thesocialitefashion

    Reblogged this on Socialite Fashion and commented:
    I love stories like this – it reminds me that happy endings exist in different forms.

    March 27, 2013 at 9:53 am |
  36. lisah732

    I have an 11 year old son who was diagnosed with PDD-NOS at 3. At the time he was diagnosed, he couldn't initiate a conversation, could only say 3 or 4 words, would not make eye contact and was easily overstimulated (tantrums). Going out in public was like venturing into a minefield. On our first trip to Disney World when he was 4, we had an amazing experience with the staff there. My son was obsessed with Pirates, and loved Captain Jack Sparrow. Disney offered a Pirates training session outside of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. I asked one of the Disney staff about where they would be setting it up, and explained that my son had Autism. I wanted to figure out the best spot for Danny to view the performance and make sure we could make a quick get away if he started to melt down. Shortly before the show began, the Disney employee I spoke to approached me and asked if my son would like to meet with Captain Jack Sparrow privately after the performance. I was stunned. Danny was thrilled. He still has the picture hanging in his bedroom.

    The second experience that really stands out for me involves Dan's 2nd grade basketball team. We believed strongly in putting Danny in situations with typically developing kids as often as possible. Even at 7 years of age, it's easy to see which kids are athletically gifted and those that are not. With low muscle tone, Danny was not one of the more athletic kids. During a game towards the end of the season, Danny got the ball and started dribbling down the court. Three of his team mates surrounded him and made sure none of the kids from the other team could get to him as he dribbled. He made his way down the court and they formed a circle around him and let him shoot. The ball went in on the first try. As a Mom who has seen her son struggle with things that come so easily to other kids, this brought me to tears. These kids showed a level of kindness and compassion that you don't see often in children of that age. It's something I'll always remember and cherish.

    If you were to meet Danny today, you'd never know he was on the spectrum. We did a lot of work with him at home and coordinated our efforts with the therapists and teachers he worked with. He is now in a typical classroom with limited support and does well academically. All of his friends are typically developing. Autism affects each child differently. We worked hard to help Dan find ways to cope with his issues and eventually overcome them. I couldn't be more proud of him.

    March 27, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • Steve

      Isn't it amazing that int his day of chemicals and drugs to create surrealism in the brian, that new and afore never heard of "syndromes" are being discovered? Most are just lack of behavior modifications.

      March 27, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • rafael

      Great stories. Best wishes to your family.

      March 27, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • doctordonna

      Same here. I have two that are PDD-NOS, although my son has had much worse meltdowns than my daughter. Since being in school he has had some great progress, although he still has some trouble with changes in schedules or getting work done. Still, everyone who works with him talks about how good a kid he is and how much they enjoy teaching him. My daughter is more interactive socially and luckily has been easier to deal with in public. Still, on one occasion she was upset because the restaurant we were at didn't have french fries. The manager came to see if he could help and decided that, even though they weren't on the menu they'd be easy enough to make. I was floored that someone would go so far to make our dinner a pleasant one!

      March 27, 2013 at 11:16 am |
  37. Seyedibar

    Ahhh, I get it. So it's an allegory about wasting food.

    March 27, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • Captain Slapaho@Seyedibar

      Aah, I get it. You are an allegory for ignorance.

      March 27, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • rafael

      Nah, probably eaten by the staff.

      March 27, 2013 at 10:21 am |
  38. P

    Awesome, very sweet story.

    March 27, 2013 at 9:40 am |
  39. Kelly Langston

    I'm glad that someone took a chance and interacted with this beautiful child. Autistic children have a lot to teach us. If you can't see it, then you haven't taken that chance yourself, and honestly, you're missing out.

    March 27, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • Brad

      It's true, they at an autisctic woman give a talk at TEDTalks about engineering. The way autistic people work sometimes, they excel in areas, see patterns and solutions that normal people would take a very long time to see or come up with. Teachers, buisnesses, and scientist are starting to take advantage of these talents, and should.

      March 27, 2013 at 10:48 am |
  40. Daniel

    This story has less to do with a child with autism and more to do with an oppressive society and a family terrified to leave the home with their child for fear that she will be seen as a spoiled brat or freak due to her reaction to being over stimulated. It is not the parents obligation to force their child to conform to the demands of an oppressive society – we need to be smarter than that or we are going to regress to the colonial period when Puritans believed that the indigenous people of this country needed to be forced to assimilate – and we all know how that ended.

    March 27, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • sticky humid

      It's not oppressive to expect a person to "not attack" others when they are dissatisfied with their burger.
      Give autistic people some respect. They don't *need* to assault you.... they can learn other behaviors. This girl, for example, seems to be opting for a more polite response to her problem. (hopefully, it wasn't just a lucky moment for the family)

      March 27, 2013 at 9:49 am |
      • Daniel

        sticky humid

        Formulas are well and good when solving problems that are linear – human nature is not. Humans require an non-linear approach in order to get a clear sense of what sets them off in order to help them help themselves. I think that you have been working with adults for too long when the fact of the matter is that adults are direct descendants of their child like selves.

        March 27, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
  41. CoveyLeadrShort

    Also, does anybody else think autism is the new ADHD?

    March 27, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • biggerdawg

      WHAT? Sure, the same people who think you are the new pope. What a fool.

      March 27, 2013 at 9:30 am |
      • CoveyLeadrShort

        I'm not a practicing Catholic..... Now go and live in peace.

        March 27, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
        • CoveyLeadrShort

          See what I did...... I turned the other cheek.......

          March 27, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • Merlene

      my son is ADHD he's a handsome 17 yr old, who is going to tech school for electrical field. My son has never been considered artistic in any way. He is also an honor student in school.

      March 27, 2013 at 10:00 am |
      • CoveyLeadrShort

        That is nice hear, I am happy for him to be successful in his endeavours and for you raising such a wonderful child.

        March 27, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
    • Conservative Avenger

      I doesn't surprise me to see so may ignorant comments here. People like you are the reason these good people stand out. Benefits for gifted children.....hmmmm. Do you think autistic children cannot be not gifted? Would you rather ignore them now, and pay for them the rest of their lives as they do nothing but apprently annoy you? Let me ask you, if someone touched your arm and it felt like an electric shock that caused to jerk away and yelp, would you appreiate them laughing at you or yelling at you> What if your brain sensed and could view every electrical pulse in a flourescent light, giving you a migraine or keeping you from being able to focus (much like if you were trying to work as a strobe light was on around you? Or your brain just went somewhere, leaving a twitching, hand flapping, moaning body in your space. How would you want to be treated? With scorn? Alot, if not most of these autistic childern do not even want you to be all gushy and sympathetic, they just want the pain to stop, and for people to leave them basically alone. But we are a society that reallizes, some people need help just to get by and that ALL humans deserve a chance to flourish an grow. Some just ake longer. Wanna talk about "gifted", how about Einstein? Sir Issac Newton, Temple Grandin, Marty Balin, Daryl Hannah, the list goes on. Do not let ignorance guide you; investigate, educate, don't be jugemental and most of all, do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.

      March 27, 2013 at 10:14 am |
      • Knucklehead

        So, seeing as you're conservative, are you for using public funds to help autistic people?

        March 27, 2013 at 11:01 am |
        • Conservative Avenger

          Public funds I pay into, sure. Not crazy about paying for people who CHOOSE not to be better, or people who are not citizens. Do you know how many health care dollars are spent on foreign nationals who come here specifically for medical treatment, such as labor and delivery among other things, then split leaving the bill yet to be paid? Being conservative does not mean being stupid. What do you think, conservatives have not compassion for those in need? I also think there are ways to take care of other problems, NOT with public money. I may run for President, I'm so smart :-)

          March 27, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • lovetohike

      I don't think the question was meant to upset anyone. And you can have autism AND ADD so that might part of the confusion, but they are separate issues. Autism and ADD or ADHD have some very distinct difference but also have some things in common. But truth be told we all have things in common with autism. For example I can't tolerate loud noises, does not mean I am on the spectrum just means I have some auditory sensory issues. To learn the signs of autism visit creditable websites and talk with your doctor or have your child evaluated.
      But for those of you out there hating and freaking out about this comment you need to do a little reading! Autism and ADD have both had a lot of success with the same types of treatments and interventions. So at school for example a child with ADD and a child on the spectrum may be in the same social skills class, or have the same visual schedule to look at. Just saying there are things in common with both but you could say that about a lot of things I know.

      March 27, 2013 at 11:03 am |
      • CoveyLeadrShort

        Thank you, it was a question to open a dialogue. No personal belief was inputted into the asking of the question.

        March 27, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • CoveyLeadrShort

      I was a question to open a dialogue. No more. Call me what u will. You know the question has been thrown around. Nor did you name callers ask what my opinion was to the question, you simply think 'heartless jerk who thinks my kid was diagnosed as autistic because they act out.' On the contrary. For those of you who suffer from foot in mouth disease.... Kiss mine.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  42. CoveyLeadrShort

    Waste of food....sure.
    Did it make a little girl happy....of course.
    Which outweighs more?

    If the girl wasn't autistic would the response be the same????? That's the real question everyone should be asking.

    March 27, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • biggerdawg

      Why, why is that the real question? The real question the rest of us are asking is; What is wrong with you?

      March 27, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • Russ

      What are you talking about? This story is about interaction with an autistic girl and has nothing to do with how another girl without autism would react. Your response says more about you and your shortcomings than anything else.

      March 27, 2013 at 9:45 am |
      • MontanaTrace

        biggerdawg doesn't understand but that's okay. Stories like this are great teaching tools. BD will know a little more now. This is good for all.

        March 27, 2013 at 9:49 am |
        • MontanaTrace

          Oops. My comment was misdirected to biggerdawg. Wrong person. BD, my apologies. It was to be for coveyleader.

          March 27, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • MontanaTrace

      How many children see a burger cut in half as being broken? OCD is most often a big part of autism.

      March 27, 2013 at 9:45 am |
      • CoveyLeadrShort

        Wait! You don't have a kid who is particular about ANYTHING?!??!

        Your seriously lucky!

        March 27, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • rafael

      Autism is often associated with difficulty in feeling empathy and making social connections. Think about that.

      March 27, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • Knucklehead

      Of course not. Rejecting a hamburger because it's cut in half is unreasonable. But playing along with the kid because they're autistic shows imagination and compassion.

      And who said they didn't take the other burger home and somebody else ate it? Jeez

      March 27, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • CoveyLeadrShort

      Some of u have failed to miss the point of the question. This story should be heartwarming and uplifting regardless if this girl is autistic. You make it an issue by calling me "uneducated?!" Even if a child who is not autistic were to respond in this manner, and receive the same treatment from the restaurant, I would be praising all those involved. Get my doesn't take special circumstances!!!! We should be treating each other this way away!!!! Instead, I'm insulted for asking a valid question.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
      • CoveyLeadrShort

        nice edit CNN, 'any way' to 'away?'

        March 27, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
      • Conservative Avenger

        I do not presume you to be uneducated, however I think you are ignorant. Ignorance is not an insult, it is a state of being, like alive or dead. Ignorance is not a choice, it is merely a blank slate. It is no longer ingnorance when you have learned facts then reject them, because that is a choice. Is it your choice to imply that all people who are challenged be treated no differently than those who are fully able? Have you, personally, had experience in communicating or caring for an autistic person? Have you learned and studied facts of it's impact? Or what if it were the opposite; what if most of society was blind for instance, and you had to wear blinders just because that's the way they preferred it, so you would have no advantage in seeing your surroundings over them? What if that's exactly what is going on inside an autistic brain? What if its a higher level of being and your ignorance, were it allowed to flourish, was dragging them down to our level simply because we do not want to go to the trouble of dealing with them on their terms? Ludicrous maybe, impossible, eh, who knows, but so was a walk on the moon in the 15th century, or a cell phone in 1776.

        March 27, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
        • CoveyLeadrShort

          Answers to your question in order:




          Your hypothetical question is rather farfetched. But I would want to see and I'm sure the people who were blind would be thankful people like me exist and can be a benefit to those in a time of need. Plus, you must be some sort of expert in neurology to know and/or perceive to know what goes on in a person's mind. In my opinion, ur not, because you have completely overlooked the fact that I was getting to the idea that we as a society should make stories like this commonplace, no matter who is involved (sick, healthy, old, young, black, white, etc.). By doing so eventually we won't have to have stories like this get attention, WE'RE JUST BEING THAT KIND AND THOUGHTFUL OF EACH OTHER! Help your follow man, Peace on Earth, all that stuff we should be doing now, but we don't.

          Your last question I answer with a question. Are u calling people with mental disabilities Aliens?

          March 27, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • CoveyLeadrShort

      So wasting food is more important than a child's happiness...... Man, were all going down the wrong path.

      March 27, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
  43. Robert Harrison

    My wife is a MSW, and I have seen the children she deals with on a daily basis. I have seen the parents of autistic children struggle and overcome. I have seen these children struggle...and overcome. I have seen the heartbreak...and the joy. My best friend's son is a glorious child...who lives through the challenges of autism. And after reading some of the inhumane and disgustingly uninformed comments of some "people" on here, I have come to a few conclusions. 1) I sincerely hope that some of these people are using proper birth control, or if they already have children, they are not spreading their disesed thinking to their children. 2) Mankind claims to have come such a long way, yet some people seem intent on taking us back to an age when the weak, sick or different were destroyed. I thought that whole way of thinking died out with Hitler. 3) I would rather share my WORLD...with these autistic children and their families, than with the likes of some of the people who have posted their ill-informed sickness for public viewing. I would have said that maybe these people need an autistic or other special needs child in their life to teach them just how special life can be...but no... they would probably just end up destroying that child. I hope that someday they will understand, and perhaps make amends for their ignorance...

    March 27, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • Valerie

      Most people don't understand that it is possible for cheeseburgers to be "hurt" or how these beautiful children can teach us amazing lessons in humility. Thanks for the kind and supportive words. ~ Parent of 5 year old with PDD.

      March 27, 2013 at 11:13 am |
  44. matthew1039

    Reblogged this on Finding Life and commented:
    Many of you might already have read this story about little Arianna and the broken cheeseburger. But if you haven't, you certainly should! It's a beautiful and important lesson for each of us in relating to those with special needs, and why we should go out of our way to do so. And this isn't just about the person but because this is a means by which God's love is shown to a world that is really "broked".

    March 27, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  45. Arla

    Although I understand why this family was so touched by the waitress and manager's willingness to address the child directly, this isn't always advisable. Most people do not know how to interact with individuals with autism and may alarm or completely set off the individual. So although it is wonderful in this situation that they were able to interact with the child without incident, this is not always the case. It's often a good idea to speak to the individual's company first and try to find out a little more about the individual and their unique situation before attempting to interact as you would with any individual who does not face the challenges that autism can present. But I am very impressed and touched by this story. :)

    March 27, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • JustMe

      Didn't you read the part where she told the server she was autistic, and that the server herself had a family member that was autistic? She did speak with the family first. She knew how to interact with her.

      March 27, 2013 at 9:22 am |
  46. Jason B

    Faith in humanity restored. :^)

    March 27, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • Jonathan M

      I agree. This article kept me smiling from ear to ear! It was so wonderful to read a story that shows people in a brighter light.

      March 27, 2013 at 9:26 am |
      • Valerie

        Me too!

        March 27, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  47. Truth™

    Great story. Spend some time with a special needs kid and you will appreciate the sense of tact that this server showed. She sounds like a real professional.

    March 27, 2013 at 8:52 am |
1 2 3 4 5
| Part of