On June 4, 2018 Crispi’s, a popular Italian restaurant in Bridgewater, MA closed its doors to the public and reserved the evening for families affected by autism. Crispi’s owner Laura Falconeiri teamed up with Kathy Rogers, a special education teacher at Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School to host the unique event.

Going out to eat is a common concern for families affected by autism because parents must remain focused on their child’s experience and be prepared for the stares their child’s unpredictable actions may receive. When asked by Wicked Local (Bridgewater), Rogers remembers “families left saying how comfortable they felt. Many stated that this gave them the opportunity to be at a great restaurant, have delicious food and have their children be a part of it.”

Jordan Eldredge high fives his aunt after placing his order at Crispi’s (Dave DeMelia | The Enterprise)

Inclusive events like this one at Crispi’s are increasingly becoming more common, as according to the latest CDC estimate, 1 in 59 people in the United States have been diagnosed Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Social anxiety and isolation are some of the most common symptoms one may experience.

Pleasantly surprised by the very crowded restaurant the night of June 4, Falconeiri and Rogers told Wicked Local that there would even be another “Autism Night” on July 9, 2018.

Based on the great feedback received from the community about the event, Falconeiri told Wicked Local that she intends to have Crispi’s continue hosting this event monthly for the families. “Honestly, I think people were so happy to go out with their family,” Falconeiri said. “We did this because we have a place to do this. We did this because we could.”

Hopefully the collaboration between Rogers and Falconeiri inspires more relationships like this to form and spurs conversations to increase awareness about ASD everywhere.

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