You see, for my daughter to go alone with friends on outings or dates, we have to line up some support for her. She doesn’t read well, so picking from a menu is challenging. Adding and subtracting is also hard for her, so paying the bill and figuring the tip is difficult. She has fine motor issues—cutting her own food requires an adaptive knife.
But going out alone with friends is important to my daughter, and she was looking forward to this special date—we set to work.
She and I found out the name of the restaurant. We went to the restaurant’s website and read the menu together and discussed the menu choices. We considered whether or not she could cut it herself. She made her choice and practiced ordering it. We wrote it down on an index card and put it in her purse. I reminded her that she could tell the waiter what she wanted or she could just show the card when it was time to order—sometimes waiters have difficulty understanding her speech.
We did the math and figured out what she would owe for her dinner and paper-clipped that amount of cash together in her wallet. We then looked together at her tip card that she keeps in her wallet. The card is a chart that tells her how much to tip with different amounts. We talked about how much she would leave for a tip and wrote that amount on her index card for her to reference later.
With these supports in place, she was sure to have a good time. And she did. I am pretty sure the meal went off without a hitch.
However, the evening did hold a surprise for them. After the meal, my daughter and her date asked for the check. When the waiter came back, he presented them instead with dessert. The waiter explained that someone dining near-by had paid for their meal and had included desserts for them. They, of course, were thrilled with the free meal and free desserts.
I was thrilled too. But I was more elated that someone had noticed two young adults who required some extra attention. They may have noticed their efforts and their struggles but appreciated their independence and determination. And as a result, moved enough to pick up their tab. Someone who wanted to encourage them and bless them.
Helping your child build their independence is one of the most important things you do for them. Get more information here.
Before I had my son, I was a special education teacher. I was one of those teachers who believed that these "special" kids needed to be kept safe. After teaching in a self-contained special education class, my views slowly started to change.
Children grow up having dreams—dreams of being a princess or a football player or a doctor or a teacher. They have so many dreams. The world is their oyster. When your child has a disability, those dreams are different.