I have been living with Asperger syndrome, an autistic spectrum disorder, for twenty-five years and it has its positives and negatives. The positives include having an average to high intelligence, which was enough for me to achieve a 2:1 in animation at university and allow me to study for an MA in the same subject; and knowing a lot about music, films and, of course, animation.
Sadly in this blog post I will focus more on the negative aspect of Asperger’s such as how it affected my perception of service in certain restaurants. Once I was in Wetherspoon in Holloway Road (The Coronet) and I ordered a cooked breakfast but it wasn’t until the last minute I was told they ran out of bacon. Frustrated I told the man I already paid and he offered me extra sausage in place of bacon to which I obliged. A few months later I experienced something similar in O’Neill’s in Muswell Hill when I ordered lemon meringue pie for dessert but it wasn’t until after my main course I was told there was none left. I found this ridiculous but the staff offered me an alternative at the same price. This wasn’t the only bad thing I experienced at O’Neill’s on this particular visit. Upon entering they were working on the upstairs seating area, meaning there were fewer seats and larger parties walked out quicker than one could say, ” Guinness.” When I mentioned to the barman I had a money off voucher by e-mail I found it very patronising when he said, “you do know there’s a minimum spend do you?” but I told him I didn’t. To make matters worse he confused my starter for a main but I corrected him. When my main course came the waitress also put a burger that I didn’t order on the table so I told her to take it away. I have never returned there since.
Another bad experience I had at O’Neill’s was when I tried going there for breakfast but it didn’t open on time. I was told it would close again due to a problem with the gas, which I found very disruptive to my routine. Saying the pub will open at 9am when it really opened about 15 – 20 minutes later is false advertising.
On the whole these pubs and restaurants were not very autism friendly in my opinion. When I attended an autism convention where my dad was running a stall I was given a piece of paper to think of suggestions on how restaurants could be made more autism friendly and my dad initially suggested I sometimes get upset around families with children in restaurants and it took me a while to think of some suggestions. I eventually thought of the suggestion of people with autism to be told if the restaurant has run out of something as soon as possible even if some people on the spectrum may not like this. My dad thought it was a good idea and when he was in Saudi Arabia he was told camel meat was off the menu, which he may have found rather frustrating even though he doesn’t have autism himself. Another idea I thought of is that of family restaurants having separate adult and family dining areas so adults on the spectrum can dine in peace.