Qdoba Mexican Grill, Battlefield Plaza Shopping Center, Springfield – four students from Rivendale Center for Autism are accompanied by Rivendale professionals and visit the restaurant every Wednesday. They go to enjoy an afternoon brownie or cookie.
Stephanie Marshall, program director at Rivendale said:
“When they first came to Qdoba, they literally walked through the door and I was standing there. I handed them a cookie, and they got back on the bus,”
“I was a familiar face they knew. And we built on that progressively.”
That happened over six months ago and since then the students have stayed a little longer and ventured further inside on each visit.
The Qdoba staff were given training and information about autism by Rivendale professionals before the program began.
‘They do not turn down the music, dim the lights or make any adjustments to accommodate the students.’
Mr Marshall explains that the program’s goal is for the students to be able to order a meal, exchange money and then eat peacefully.
Brenna Hill said of her daughter, Kennedy that she now seems more patient and that this is all part of dining out as you have to wait in line.
Qdoba supervisor Makenzie Oliver told that the restaurant employees look forward to the weekly visits from Rivendale students.
“We see a lot more eye contact. They have been saying, ‘Thank you’ — not verbally, but in sign language,”
“It’s a good experience. It makes me happy to see that.”
The original article by Jackie Rehwald on the Springfield News-Leader website can be read here