A rare day off in the week with just Dad and Dylan.
We spent the morning treating ourselves to a breakfast out. Dylan’s favourite of bacon, sausage, tomato sauce beans and hash browns went down a treat. I helped Dylan to add it all onto his iPad so he could make the request for himself. The waitress didn’t really pay attention to him or the IPad and misheard his request of ‘no egg please’ and thought that Dylan wanted extra egg. We needed to quickly intercept as the arrival of the breakfast with a big fat egg on it would not have gone down well!
After breakfast we headed over to the bowling alley to meet other home educated teens for a bit of a social meet. It was loud. It was busy but we lasted 2 hours and Dylan got involved. The other children varied in age from 12-15 years and had mixed abilities but everyone was kind and considerate to Dylan.
Dylan had no idea when it was his turn or how many goes he could take at a time but the older kids really looked out for him and made sure he was okay. He seemed to really enjoy himself.
Heading out like this is a big thing for us. Dylan was always very anxious at school; and around other children so to take him to socialise with a whole lot of children that he doesn’t know is a big thing, but he loved it!
The day finished off with plans to return next time. This evening was Dylans turn for the Wednesday night out and yet again Pizza Hut was his restaurant of choice. A slight panic for me on arrival as I realised as we were being seated that there was no Coke available – the bottomless coke is a big incentive for Dylan. I quickly explained to him once seated that he would have to choose between either apple juice or orange juice because the Coke was broken – We had to go and have a quick look at the machine to prove I wasn’t lying but once reseated Dylan decided he was having apple juice and the world didn’t end! Phew!
We had a nice meal and two members of staff commented on Dylan’s iPad – directly to Dylan – about how cool it was that he was using one. Every time we arrive I feel a bit that Dylan may discussed behind the scenes as ‘the boy with the iPad’ but to be honest that’s fine – at least they are noticing!! I don’t know – maybe it’s paranoia on my part that they notice but Dylan and I are doing it; we’re getting out there and it’s okay! Dylan finished up the visit by practicing requesting the bill and using his card to pay.
Dylan showed me in the car on the way home how much he like to rock out to the radio and will happily flick through the stations until he finds a song that he likes, he then request to turn it up by signalling round with his finger next to the volume dial. I don’t let him have it any louder than 20 but he will often try and leave it on 21 or 22 thinking I won’t notice. Cheeky Monkey!
The differences between this morning’s eating out experience and this evening made me think.
Customer care is so important but there are so many people who just don’t know how to manage speaking to someone who doesn’t always answer you back verbally.
I must admit this was something I was unsure of prior to having Dylan – the use of AAC and how to communicate with people who may not respond or communicate verbally.
So I’m making this my mission for 2017.
To expose the retail world to AAC in a real and functional format.
To be approachable and invite interactions.
To give credit where it’s due.
I’ll spend the year with Dylan exposing people to AAC and complimenting staff members that are attentive, accepting or encouraging.
I’ll send emails to companies head offices and tweets to managers to ensure they recognise excellent customer service to those with varying abilities.
Let’s get AAC out there!