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Woman refuses to go out to dinner with nephew with autism, 'he won't eat ANYTHING without Ranch.' AITA?

Woman refuses to go out to dinner with nephew with autism, 'he won't eat ANYTHING without Ranch.' AITA?


"AITA for refusing to go out to dinner with my autistic nephew because of ranch dressing?"

I (27f) have my cousin (34f), my nephew (10m) and, niece (6f) coming to stay with me for four days next month.

My nephew is autistic and has some food troubles. In some ways he's not a picky eater - he eats a very balanced diet and is willing to try most things if he's given ample time to mentally prepare.

That being said he won't eat ANYTHING without Ranch Dressing. He puts it on everything including sushi and soups. If it does not have ranch he won't touch it and has a full-blown meltdown if you try to force him. He keeps a little thermos with ranch on him anywhere he goes just in case.

My sister really wants to go and have some foods she has been missing such as Thai and Indian. I think that's great but I know these restaurants don't serve ranch. I called around to the restaurants to see if they would allow me to bring outside ranch into the restaurant due to my nephew's disability but they said they can't make any exceptions for outside food.

I told my cousin as such and she insisted we could just sneak some ranch into the restaurants and it will be fine since she apparently does it all the time at home.
I refused. I feel really uncomfortable with the idea and I like these restaurants and don't want to risk getting banned. I know we can just order take out and both the kids would prefer to stay at my place anyway.

I told my sister if she was that insistent on going OUT to eat I could watch the kids while she went out (or stay home with just my nephew) and she could enjoy the meal herself.

My cousin was horribly offended by this suggestion and has been blowing up my phone saying I'm an ahole, trying to prevent her from having a nice vacation with her kids, and that I'm ableist (despite being autistic myself).

I really don't think I'm being an ahole, but I'm really bad at understanding social norms and now her husband and my aunt are texting me saying I'm horrible for suggesting she can't have dinner out with her children.

She's been threatening not to come visit me and just go stay with her parents who live two hours away in the opposite direction. so AITA?

Here's what the top commenters had to say:

spookobsessedscot said:

NTA. I've worked in restaurants on and off for years and it's all about cross contamination, the fact that you offered to babysit as well so she could enjoy the food without stress was kind of you.

Yeah, it sucks that the world doesn't cater to us ND, but you did your research, gave alternatives and attempted to find a way to suit everyone. Sounds like she is throwing a tantrum from not getting her own way, but is there also a chance this is a burned out mum projecting her frustrations due to being desperate for a bit of "normality?"

Also, the word ableist is getting excessively thrown around nowadays. Try not to let this wear you down.

StAlvis said:

NTA. OMG just get takeout! Enjoy a lovely RANCHED-OUT restaurant meal with the family at home.

jolovesmustard said:

NTA I have an autistic child with food issues but I also work in the food service industry. There are many reasons outside food is banned but the main reasons is allergens. You can’t ensure customer safety in this situation.

yeahipostedthat said:

YTA. No server is going to notice or care about some ranch dressing packets. I waited tables for years and would see people with their own seasoning bottle or whatever and didn't give a crap.

You're making this a much bigger deal than it is. When restaurants say no outside food they mean don't bring your own meal, not a random condiment for an autistic child.

CrabbiestAsp said:

NTA. You've gone above and beyond by calling these restaurants to confirm if he can be catered to. Not many people would do that. Your sister won't face any long term consequences if you all get caught with the extra food, it will be you who can't return to the restaurants etc. You've given her a few other options. She is unwilling to compromise.

While the opinions were slightly divided here, most people took OP's side. What's your advice for this family?

Sources: Reddit
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