How McDonald’s Made Me Emotional

Autism (or maybe just parenting?) changes us in the best and sometimes funniest ways.

Neither Keith nor I have had a McDonald’s cheeseburger in more years than we can count. Keith knows it’s 20+ for him. I imagine it’s the same for me, since I never liked them anyway. 

Most people know Henry’s autism traits fall hard on the “restricted interests and behaviors” side of the spectrum. Food is a huge problem. We go to restaurants only a few times a year with the larger family. Eating at home is more enjoyable as well as practical for the 3 of us. Travel presents challenges, as we must carry along with us what we know Henry will eat.

I tell you all of this because it’s impossible to capture the shock we felt tonight. 

Henry said he wanted to try a cheeseburger. From McDonald’s. The thought is enough to make me gag, and I’m pretty sure pre-Henry Keith would have bet his 401K that he’d never buy his child a McDonald’s burger, yet tonight Keith went straight to the Golden Arches. 

It took 1 minute and 20 seconds for Henry to chew his first bite. I felt confident I was about to see him run to the trash can. 

Henry eating a cheeseburger

He swallowed.

He declared it good. 

He ate half of it.

I may or may not have teared up later, watching the video. 

If he asks tomorrow, we’ll go again. Gladly. Because our son’s meals look like a snack for birds. (No, I’m not kidding. I wish I were kidding.)

He also tried sushi a couple of months ago. The experiment didn’t take, but he gets points for swallowing it. In fact, he asked for it, out of the blue, much like tonight’s cheeseburger.

On December 23, in a burger joint with my family, he asked for a grilled cheese. I didn’t push it on him. I didn’t order it on the sly, whispering to the waiter. He asked for it and ate 3/4 of it.

I always say his time, his way. I guess food is just the latest manifestation of this truth.


New here? Glad you made it! I write about my unique joys and challenges as Mom to Henry, a smart, tender, quick­-witted, train-loving, autistic 10-­year­-old with an infectious smile. I long to encourage autism parents and empower all to see inclusivity doesn’t have to be difficult - it can be beautiful. Like what you see? Sign up here to receive news and occasional freebies just for insiders.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.