Eating out in restaurants or cafés can be very difficult for autistic people. Sensory input such as bright lighting, large numbers of people, loud noises, and strong smells can cause anxiety, sensory overload, and meltdowns.
Restaurants and cafe's also add the extra difficulties of social interaction and food tolerances. Many autistic people struggle with eating. This can be due to sensory sensitivities (the taste, texture, smell, and sound of different foods can be more intense for autistic people), the stress surrounding eating in front of other people, and food's unpredictability.
Through the tasks our dogs are trained to perform, our Therapy Assistance Dogs are able to help to reduce their handler's anxiety - including anxiety surrounding food and eating. By reducing the anxiety around food and eating, this can help to give our handlers the confidence to expand their diet and to eat out in public places!
For more information on our therapy assistance dogs programme, to support or donate, please visit our website www.balesbuddies.org