Owen Long likes to know where he’s going to eat. Being autistic, he’s not much on surprises when it comes to his meal, according to his mother. So, they make special accommodations now and then to keep Owen happy, decreasing any unnecessary anxiety for the special needs boy. “We knew all day we were going to eat at Sun Restaurant. Owen likes to know exactly where he’s going to eat every night,” explained Owen’s mother Sandra Block.
Owen was riding in the car with his dad when they saw an opportunity to help make the takeout experience a better one for Owen. They were going to grab a menu, so Owen could look it over before they placed their takeout order at Sun Cuisines Restaurant in Williamsville, New York. “So he said to him, ‘Owen just go and get the takeout menu and come right back,’ and they practiced it in the car. ‘You’re going to ask — what are you going to ask?’ ‘Take out menu,’ ‘okay good,’” Sandra furthered.
But, nothing went as planned when the boy entered the eatery. He managed to approach the counter, but Owen was quickly distracted by the smell of the food. When Aye Thein, the Sun Cuisines Restaurant Partner and Manager, asked if she could assist him in some way, Owen simply told her he was hungry. Her reaction had the boy in the restaurant for an extended period of time, and that’s when his dad feared something was wrong.
Curious what was taking Owen so long, his dad entered the restaurant and he simply couldn’t believe the sight unfolding in front of him. Aye Thein’s reaction to the boy’s admission that he was hungry was something this family had never seen or expected. And, Sandra quickly took to the business’s Facebook page to let the world know all about it.
After giving the background story, Sandra said her husband went in to find out what’s going on, and he was so blown away, he took a picture. “What’s going on is that my son is at a table, eating,” Sandra wrote. After telling the staff he was hungry, Aye “sat him down and asked what he wanted to eat, and he answered: ‘beef,’” Sandra added.
“She told her cooks, ‘Hurry, this boy is very hungry,’ and made him a beef curry with rice. She said that he was so sweet she was planning on letting him eat for free,” Sandra continued before saying she loves the restaurant and telling others, “If you end up there, thank them again, from me. For their kindness, and for treating my son like family.”
“He said I’m hungry and when I look at his face, from my heart I said, ‘Oh, he’s a very special boy to me.’ I said, ‘What do you want to eat honey?’ I asked him, and he said, ‘I want to eat beef,’” Aye Thein recalled, according to WIVB News 4. Apparently, at Sun Restaurant, the motto is: “Ask and you shall receive!”
What makes this even better, Aye had no idea Owen has autism. So, she wasn’t treating him special because of a disability. Instead, she says she was just practicing “Mettā,” which is part of Buddhism and her Burmese culture. “Mettā means loving and kindness to everybody,” she explained. But, that loving and kindness is still a shock to Sandra, who can’t believe how her son was treated.
“To the point of sitting him down and making him a beef curry? That’s insane. That’s just so crazy awesome to me,” the grateful mom said. But, is it really insane? Perhaps a better question is this: Should it be “crazy” to us to see such love in our own society? Although it’s sadly uncommon, it doesn’t need to be. We don’t have to be a Buddhist or part of the Burmese culture to practice the loving and kindness Aye Thein and Sun Cuisines Restaurant displayed that day. We all have the opportunity to show such compassion every day — we just have to make the choice to do it.