Why I'll Always Remember a Waitress’s Small Act of Kindness for My Son With Autism


Most parents of kids with autism can relate to what I call “the short list.” It’s the list of restaurants where you can go and you know your kids will be comfortable. This story is not about the long list of restaurants we don’t go to. It’s about one more restaurant that I feel every parent of a child with autism should add to their “short list.”

My son Braeden is 7 years old and on the autism spectrum, and Perry is a 14-inch plush platypus. They’re best friends. Braeden, Perry and I set out in our hometown of Media, Pennsylvania in search of brunch. We found ourselves at a familiar yet relatively new restaurant, Bittersweet Kitchen. Braeden ordered chocolate chip pancakes and bacon, and he began to place Perry’s order when I interrupted and laughed to the waitress.

Not long after that, our food came — and so did Perry’s.

boy and stuffed animal sitting at restaurant table
Braeden and Perry eating brunch.

I sat there and watched the smile spread across Braeden’s face as I held back tears. I thanked the waitress and the owner for their kindness and left. Sitting at home later that night after Braeden and Perry were fast asleep, I couldn’t help but feel completely overwhelmed with emotions. I thought to myself that the waitress may never know what she did for Braeden. What may have seemed like a small act of kindness to her meant everything.

As a parent of a child with autism, all we really want is acceptance — for us, for our family, for our child or adult loved one with autism. Some days are defeating, but then you find the days when you don’t need to search for it, when acceptance greets you at the door and serves a stuffed platypus a meal. Those are the moments worth sharing, a day you’ll always remember and a restaurant worth the “short list.”

The Mighty is asking the following: Tell us about a time someone in your community went above and beyond (or did the exact opposite) for you or your loved one with special needs. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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