Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

Having a child with autism, we are sometimes apprehensive about trying new things. Like going to a restaurant other than the one our son is familiar with. But it was a special occasion this weekend, so we took the plunge.

It was my birthday, and my wife wanted to celebrate by taking us all out to eat. We have gotten somewhat comfortable dining at our local Mexican restaurant. Its casual atmosphere and the quick arrival of chips and salsa to our table make it the ideal place to go with a boy who hates to wait and can’t sit still for long.

But, while Kai does well there, we haven’t felt all that comfortable about taking him to other restaurants.

For my birthday, however, my wife thought the occasion called for more than enchiladas and tacos. And, we wanted to go out as a family. So, she came up the idea to try one of those Japanese steakhouses where the chef cooks the meal at the table.

We thought that all of the chopping, slicing and dicing, and cooking right in front of us would sufficiently entertain Kai.

We were off to a good start when the restaurant that we went to had an indoor Japanese garden that fascinated Kai. He seemed soothed by the little faux creek running through it, along with all the green plants, coins in the water, and the bridge that we crossed to get to the dining area.

We were seated together with another family of three. We knew that it was likely that we would have to share a table, and that was a concern in choosing this place, but it was a risk we had decided to take. We hoped that Kai would behave well enough not to disturb the others and embarrass us.

Over at a neighboring table, the chef set off a big flame as he heated up their cooking surface. Its part of the show they make of preparing the meal and we thought that would really interest Kai. But all it did was frighten him. We saw his anxiety rise as he asked if there would be a fire at our table, too.

When it came time to begin cooking at our table, and our chef made a huge flame, Kai was in Mom’s lap with his head turned away from the table. When the fire went out, it took a little while to coax Kai back into his seat.

He spoke up to ask the chef, “Excuse me, will there be any more fire?”

The chef assured him that there would be no more fire at our table.

Kai seemed to enjoy watching the chef in action. And he asked him several more questions.

“Excuse me,” he said. “What are you going to cook?”

“Excuse me,” he said. “How long are you cooking?”

“Excuse me,” he said. “What table are you going to next?”

Of course, when you have a child with autism, you are thrilled anytime they want to socialize with anyone else. So, you don’t want to discourage them from doing so. But each time Kai started to speak up, I was afraid of what he might ask. But his questions were pretty appropriate and the chef was a good sport about all the questioning.

When we got to the actual eating, we all enjoyed our steaks.

Kai he did get a bit restless before my wife and I were done eating. He had some trouble staying in his seat. Fortunately, we were seated in a corner of the restaurant and he was able to move to a spare seat they had in the corner and read his element book long enough for us to finish our meals.

So, all in all, we had a very pleasant evening out.

Good steaks – nice!

An evening out with my wife and son – great!

Seeing Kai converse with the chef and successfully tolerate a new setting – the best birthday present I could ever have.


  1. Happy Birthday Yuji! Good for you for going to a new place and yay for Kai for doing so well! I know it can be hard to make that leap when you have a child with autism, so I am proud of you all for venturing out to a new place!

  2. Good for you! Your son is very cute. He has such a pure and innocent mind. I can see why it was a good birthday for you. A meal well deserved.


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