‘Prove’ to me that your daughter is disabled

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Sadly, it seems that this is what the world has come to. A simple day trip spoilt by me needing to justify our need for a little bit of extra help.

I was brave and for the first time attempted a day out with my 3 children  – on my own. This may not sound like a big deal to many, however with a learning disabled child in the mix, as well as a toddler, getting out without help is not easy to do. I did it though and we went to a well known attraction on the coast, which advertised itself as ‘fully disabled accessible’.

The day started well, we left home without too may traumas, we arrived in good time with everyone in good spirits and the morning passed with little to comment on, (excepting the usual activities – GG crawling around the floor during one talk and the high pitched shrieking at the appearance of sun lotion).

The venue turned out to be a maze and with no automatic doors (aahh) I found myself battling against the crowds with GG in her buggy screeching for lunch. Trying to navigate to the restaurant was a nightmare, having discovered that the usual access was up a flight of stairs. A kindly member of staff spotted my dilemma and assisted us to the restaurant – guiding us right back to the start to find the lift. Not a great experience, but we made it.

I had prepared for this bit as I knew lunch would not be do-able on my own. GG is incredibly demanding around food (she takes after her mother!)  and without a doubt, the minute food arrives, someone needs the loo and chaos reigns. My sister was awaiting my text to come and join us to help me manage the most difficult part of the day. However completely unexpectedly (and unreasonably) they wouldn’t let her in….

You can picture the scene, GG has screeched until food arrived being in an unfamiliar place and being unclear on where food would come from. Food arrives and toddler announces he needs a wee – quickly mummy! The toilets are back downstairs and through the shop. At this point, my sister is explaining politely the situation and still being refused entry – despite wanting to buy lunch from the restaurant.

In an impossible position, I dash downstairs, quick trip to the loo and explain frantically to a member of staff that I really need my sister to come in. The manager appears and I cannot convey how furious / upset she left me. In the middle of a mini-crisis with my girls being upstairs without an adult, she asks me to prove that my daughter is disabled….the people in the lengthy shop queue are all staring now. My son is looking at me questioningly.

I have already explained that my daughter uses a specialist buggy  and has a learning disability. I have offered for the manager to come and see, given she is sat just upstairs in the restaurant. However, I am told in no uncertain terms that they cannot allow ‘just anybody’ into the restaurant unless they can prove they are pregnant, disabled or a carer – which my sister clearly was in this situation. I was told I needed to go and get my blue badge from the car as ‘proof’. I was speechless. Her staff were visibly embarrassed.

I ran back upstairs, toddler in tow to my amazing 9 year old who was, as always, doing way more than any 9 year old should. To the gorgeous GG who fortunately was oblivious, tucking into her lunch with gusto. My sister determined to help me out, took a photo of the blue badge through the car windscreen and without hesitation, an apologetic member of staff allowed her in to join us – the manager had disappeared from sight.

It seems to be an increasing trend that disabled people and their carers are thought to be taking advantage of the ‘benefits’ available. Whether it be the dreadful PiP process that demeans disabled people and accuses them of scrounging off the state, or stories of disabled people in the workplace being told that ‘reasonable’ adjustments to enable them to work to the best of their ability are in fact ‘unreasonable’. This was just another example of being treated unfairly and quite frankly, inhumanely.

We went on to enjoy the rest of the day, we even managed half an hour on the beach in the sun, but needless to say, it certainly diminished the pleasure of having ventured out on my own.

Note: I have not named the tourist attraction we visited however I will be sharing this blog with them privately, and offering support with staff training.

Spectrum Sunday

11 thoughts on “‘Prove’ to me that your daughter is disabled

  1. This is so unbelievably sad and just awful! You’re amazing for keeping it together in what must have been an horrible predicament.

    I know how hard it is to go out alone. I haven’t because I’m too scared and situations like this make me more weary of even trying.

    They’re fortunate you’ve got the manners they are lacking and not naming and shame them. I don’t think I’d have been so kind.

    I hope you get a decent apology. Clearly a staff member who lacks common sense and decency.

    Sorry you went through this. X

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  2. Oh my, I am truly gobsmacked. I really hope you get a decent apology. I would have named and shamed in an instance. I am sure that if I was in your area I would definitely not want to visit. I’m so sorry you had to go through this, I think you and your sister were very calm. (I can just imagine what my husband would do in a situation like this.)

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  3. I am truly horrified at the treatment you received. I admire your decency at not naming the establishment but I do think if you do not receive a full apology, some token of appreciation, and a clear plan and assurance from them that this will never happen again, you should post this on their Facebook page, tweet it and add to trip advisor. I have a disabled child and knowing this had happened to you and your children would prevent me from attending and suffering similar humiliation. Our children have a right to experience things as any other and to be treated with respect. However I have to say the most surprising thing about your whole piece was the fact that you got out of the house, alone, with 3 children. Respect!

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  4. I would have been really stuffed in your position – my autistic 6 year old is not entitled to a blue badge! He gets high rate DLA for care but only low for mobility. Perhaps we should all walk round carrying our DLA letters in case some jumped up jobsworth wants us to prove we are not trying to scam them for the AMAZING benefits they offer?

    Please do inform us all where this was if they do not accept your argument in full – I for one would not want to attempt a day out at any resort with such an ignorant manager!

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  5. I’m so angry on your behalf! It’s incredibly understanding of you not to name and shame the venue and I hope they realise that when you offer them advice! They could lose an awful lot of custom and possibly face legal ramifications for the blatant discrimination they demonstrated if you chose to go public.

    People act as if accessing services for SEND children is an easy way to get free stuff rather than the awful battle it so often is for desperate parents trying to do the best for their children.

    #SpectrumSunday

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  6. First of all can I say well done. Sounds like you managed a rather difficult day and time. It is so upsetting that they treated you like this though and I hope they apologise! #spectrumsunday

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  7. What an awful way to deal with something that, with a little common sense and courtesy, should have been so simple!
    I really hope you get a decent response from the organisation and that they make sure their staff are given some disability awareness training ASAP! #spectrumsunday

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