A loving restaurant for kids with autism opens in NJ
When you have a child with autism, you often feel lesser than because of the comments from strangers, the looks, the judgment. Children with autism spectrum disorder can suffer public meltdowns just from being overstimulated. They can become loud, harsh and inconsolable.
They often have speech delays or are completely nonverbal and some of these kids make some pretty crazy noises, yelps, and even screams. They can run in circles, flap arms, throw themselves to the floor, etc..
I know because two of my children have ASD.
I also know the ever-present stress of the lack of kindness in others. So do Karl and Aimee Famiano. 25 years ago they had a beautiful baby boy named Brandon who turned out to have autism. They've seen it all, and they have empathy for autism families. They also had a dream which just became a reality.
That dream is Brandon's Pancake House and Ice Cream Parlor. Since high school Karl thought about running a pancake house and together with his wife Aimee they opened up this business for everyone to enjoy. But they take extra care to let families with autism know they're accepted and will not be judged.
"For everybody that wants to come here, we're family. You're safe," Aimee assures. She has a background in special education and her touch is seen throughout the restaurant. Things like earphones for sound sensitivity, sensory toys, etc..
When I asked Aimee in what ways Brandon's Pancake House will be accommodating for people with autism and their families she said:
First and foremost acceptance and compassion. They will be greeted and treated with respect. I have a picture menu for those who need the picture support. I also have poppers, fidget toys and stress balls to help while waiting. I have a wall where the families can be honored by writing their name on a puzzle piece and velcroing it on our Wall of Fame.
Brandon's Pancake House and Ice Cream Parlor just opened this month in Wildwood Crest. You'll find them at 6200 New Jersey Avenue.
How does Brandon feel about the place bearing his name? Very excited, especially since he now has an unlimited supply of Pepsi and mozzarella sticks, his favorites.
Aimee speaks so lovingly of her son, proudly wanting the world to know Brandon is a sweet guy whose hugs are magical.
Brandon is always happy. He has taught me more than I could teach him. He doesn't lie, cheat, steal and doesn't know how to hate. Ignorance will be here long after I am gone so I decided to make the world a better place for Brandon.
It was also a struggle for us to get services here for Brandon in New Jersey. This is a great opportunity to teach Brandon and others job skills and to make them feel like they belong. Being kind matters. People will always remember how you make them feel so be kind!
If you love your child with autism this much, and I know you do, they will feel safe here, and very special.
Keep up with the latest happenings at Brandon’s Pancake House here on their official Facebook page and be sure to visit this very special place soon.
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.
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