Taking your special needs child out to a restaurant or sit-down place to eat can be an overwhelming experience for you and your child the first time you do it. I’m just going to tell you that it gets easier with time and after reading some of these tips you will know what to ask for, where to sit and how to control the situation.
First, never be ashamed of your situation or circumstances for you, your family or your child (children). There is no reason you shouldn’t be able to enjoy your time out with your family. Nor do you need to hide in the corner to protect others.
Many restaurants have booths with few tables available. Never be seated at a booth if you have a child with a wheelchair, its not safe. For one they are out in the aisle and not all the waiters know they are there. Not only could they trip, but they could also drop food on your child. Be seated at a table where a chair can be removed whenever possible. Many restaurants are doing half-booths where the other side has chairs instead.
Tip accordingly and that is your prerogative. We tend to over-tip especially when they acknowledge our daughter and try to support her needs as well as our own. When she shares our food, she tends to get messy. Average tip is 15% which is etiquette, but you want to give more for great service.
Bring an iPad or similar device to keep your child busy. For us this was a life-saver, or we would never go out. We have some of her favorite shows loaded into it and she watches it while we eat. Get some ribbons for those who have trouble keeping their hands still, it keeps them busy for hours.