Family gatherings and dinners especially in restaurants are fun for Johnny but hard at the same time. He absolutely loves it when we go out to eat at a restaurant or cafe and loves it even more when the extended family is with us. It ends up being a wonderful opportunity for him to socialize and learn more social cues and who best to learn it from but from family members.
What is hard is the noise of chatter of people at surrounding tables, the business of the establishment and the talk at the table. So many new things to look at and discover but so much sensory to process. Relatives will try and talk to him and I can see Johnny is trying hard to pay attention but there are so many distractions and things to filter out yet catalog at the same time. It’s exhausting for him but he yet he tries because he’s so happy because everyone is together. “He’s in his own world again” or “He’s not listening” No, Johnny hears every single thing, every sound, and every voice. He is just having trouble tuning some things out. I just wish that if loved ones wanted to get his absolute and undivided attention that they would to not shout at him from across the table but instead move so that they are close to him, face to face so that he can have an easier time at trying to filter all the other distractions out. If they did then he would tell them with the few words he can say how hard it is for him to talk and how he longs to be understood.
I like watching what catches his eye when he’s at the table and what he finds fascinating. Sometimes its the salt and pepper shakers, sometimes its the water glasses and other times its all the interior decorations that are new to him. He takes in every detail and unique thing and tries to comment or ask about what he sees.
The other side of being in a place where sensory processing can be difficult is that concentrating on eating and just being in the restaurant with everyone is a challenge. We often have to verbally prompt him quite a lot to eat.
Does Johnny want to wander off and explore the restaurant? He is curious and one of us will take him for a look around when he asks but he never just wanders off or race around a restaurant. We have taken him with us everywhere since he was a little baby so I has gotten used to this. I also think he understands how special it is to eat out and
This is the kind of change he embraces because he enjoys it.