Revenge Is Sweet: How To Reward An Autistic Tantrum

Devlin and I stopped for lunch last week at a Mediterranean joint in The Central West End. It started well enough, i.e. we walked through the door without incident, but quickly turned sour. Enter autistic tantrum. Devlin became fixated that he hated this restaurant. He refused to sit down in his chair. He didn’t like the utensils. The menu annoyed him. He became irate when I ordered him hummus. Never mind that he loves hummus or that he’d been begging me to eat lunch out with just me for a week. I knew he was one unwanted lemon wedge in his glass away from a global meltdown in the restaurant. Still, it’s a treat to eat out, and I had already ordered. We passed the time by me begging him to sit down and him steadfastly refusing. In the midst of this leisurely lunch, he demanded to eat baklava from the large pastry display next to us. I explained how that was never going to happen because you don’t get what you want by losing your mind because someone served you ice in your water. After quickly devouring my meal and boxing his hummus, we almost escaped the restaurant without further incident.

Two feet outside the entrance, Devlin laid down on the wet sidewalk and declined to move, other than his arms and legs to try to kick or hit me. During the ten minutes Dev flailed around on the pavement, screaming that he wanted a pastry, a party of five walked gingerly around him as I warned them to stay clear of his feet weapons. A lady smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk told me I was doing a good job, though I’m not sure what she meant. Was she commending me for not beating my child? Okay. You’re welcome. I could see he was wearing down, or at least was tired of his damp, dirty shirt. It was at that exact moment that the restaurant owner, who no doubt failed to appreciate the Wal-Mart greeter experience my tantruming child was providing to his customers, peeked out the entrance door and offered my son a lemon square. A fucking lemon square! I forced myself to smile and thank him and then spent another several minutes convincing Devlin to hand over the lemon square. Somehow we made it back to the car. Adamant in my refusal to give him the lemon square, he spent the entire car ride home trying to kick my head or pinch me while I drove. He hasn’t had a tantrum like this in ages, and I was in tears by the time we arrived home.

But guess what I had for dinner that night?





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  1. viki

    You’re doing a great job 🙂

    I like the happy ending.

    What a challenge.

    I wonder if he wants to go out to lunch again, just you two. Was that gratifying? Poor guy. It’s funny how we all have that niggling urge to do the same damned thing, when things are irritating, especially when the build up.

    1. coymccoy

      I often think when I can’t get my house clean enough, “I wonder where Dev gets his OCD tendencies?” It’s all part of the same thing with varying degrees of severity. Most of the time he is as sweet as a lemon bar.

    1. coymccoy

      The lemon square was delicious! I thought he’d forgotten about it but he asked me where it was the next day. I told him I ate it. True to unpredictable form, he responded calmly, “Maybe I’ll eat it next time.” Maybe!

      1. Anonymous

        Perfect comeback Jen! Exactly what you should have done. 🙂 <3 it. i know this was months ago but i'll work on restaurant etiquette more with him. 🙂

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