I’m embarking on a little adventure with a good friend. It’s an exciting new project and I can’t wait to share it.
My friend Laura is a certified etiquette instructor and owns Please & Thank You, an etiquette class and consulting business here in St. Louis. She guest posted on this very blog, plus we are co-organizers of Food Media Forum (check out her food blog!) and even fellow social workers – we have plenty in common. So much so that an idea recently hatched between us; one that uses both of our skill sets in a new and exciting way.
My experience as a behavior analyst, working with children on the Autism spectrum, has lead me to look at everyday situations, like eating at the dinner table, in a different, behaviorally-oriented, light. When Laura told me about her etiquette/manners classes for children, I immediately began to think of how I would adapt that for kids on the spectrum.
A Spectrum of Table Manners is the newest class offered by Please and Thank You, and I’ll be co-teaching! This class is intended for children ages 6-10 with developmental disabilities, including Autism Spectrum Disorder. Kids with autism do things just a little bit differently than the rest of us, including table manners. So why not host a class just for them?
Laura will cover the etiquette and manners piece, as she so eloquently does, and I’ll be adding behavioral techniques intended to help children with autism enjoy a meal at the table (and help their parents enjoy that same meal – a rarity in many households). Here is what we’ll be focusing on:
- Setting the table
- Proper utensil usage
- Sitting for extended periods
- Interacting with others at the table
- General table manners
- Basic dining etiquette
The class is hands-on, sensory friendly, and provides gluten and casein free snacks. Parents will be sent home with tactical techniques to use at home and when dining out.
I’m so excited about this class – it combines a few of the things I love the most and hopefully helps families learn a few techniques to eat dinner in peace and have a little fun while at the table.