Restaurant Skills Lesson Ideas

  • Set up a restaurant in your classroom - role play how the event will proceed.
    • Make menus from catalogs.
    • Give the students clipboards for taking orders.
    • Give the kids aprons.
    • Let them make the food with playdough.
  • Invite other teachers to a restaurant run by your students.
  • Watch videos of people at restaurants.

Here are some suggestions from 

  • Have a rehearsal in a small fast food restaurant or salad bar first
  • Try to visit the restaurant to familiarize your autistic child with the establishment first.

A few things you may want to keep in mind before the actual eating out experience are:

  • Have you prepared your child enough before actually setting the date
  • Have you introduced an appropriate autism social story- explaining what is going to happen, and when it is going to happen.
  • Make sure you have taken the time to check the restaurant is the same as when you bought your child along for a visit …No re-decorating has happened etc..
  • Have you practiced with your menu at home? It may be an idea to actually bring along some food from home-just in case.
  • Try and make sure all your children have used the bathroom before you leave, public bathrooms can be a whole new experience and may cause anxiety triggers in your autistic child.
  • To be on the safe side bring along a social skills story for using the bathroom while you are out “autism social stories and going to the bathroom”. You may want to have already introduced this story to your child before the meal out - to be on the safe side.
  • Try and choose a restaurant where the service is normally very fast, or try and have a quiet word with your waiter and explain your child is autistic and could he please hurry your orders and service along.
  • Remember to always keep one eye on your autistic child…he wont think twice about helping himself to the kid on the next tables burger or fries…Or shouting out. Be aware of the people on the tables near to yours.
  • If at all possible ask to be seated in a quiet part of the restaurant away from others.


Remember restaurants are full of stimulation, smells, noises, sights, lights. You will need to be very aware of these. But as long as you have prepared your child by using an appropriate autism social story, your child should already be aware of these and you will be able to take appropriate actions to avoid certain situations.

Jessi Lalonde,
Aug 5, 2010, 1:06 PM
Jessi Lalonde,
Aug 6, 2010, 7:49 AM