One of the dark truths about the world is that there is a low tolerance for people perceived as different. This unfortunately even extends to children. There are lots of kids out there who have difference in abilities, who need extra care and compassion. Unfortunately, there's a shocking number of people who have no interest in giving it!
But why dwell on them? Because we also have people like Steph Tate, the landlady of the The Barrel Pub, in Sheffield, UK. Tate used her Facebook page for the establishment to share a story about a family that came in to ask if it would be all right if they brought in their son, who is in a wheelchair. She wanted everyone to know her opinion on that:
She wrote: PLEASE SHARE.
Yesterday a parent came in and asked me if his wheelchair bound child was ok to be in the pub, I was confused why he felt he needed to ask. This man went on to explain that his child sometimes makes loud noises and waves his arms about, people have made comments in the past when he has taken him out. It broke my heart that a parent felt they needed to ask if it was ok for his child to be here just like anyone else.
My intention is not to embarrass the parent who I spoke to yesterday, it has played on my mind all night about how this man must have felt asking me if his child would be accepted in here. It then got me thinking about how many other people must be in the same position.
Whether you need us to get you extension leads to plug specialist equipment in, help moving tables/chairs for wheelchairs or any other help you may need, everyone is welcome in my pub and help will always be offered by all of my staff.
If you're sat at home with a disabled child, partner or friend and feel on edge about taking them anywhere due to fear of someone making comments, please feel free to bring them here. If I find anyone making negative comments or being disrespectful, they will be asked to leave not you.
And people did share! Over 1,600 times so far.
Tate has been celebrated for her stance, even though people are saddened by the discrimination the family has faced elsewhere.
Some shared stories of the difficulties they've had in public with kids who have special needs:
Huffington Post UK actually found the family, and their 13-year-old boy Matthew, and interviewed them about the experience. Leila Adams, Matthew's mother, said she was the one who sent her husband to check if the pub would let them in.
“I’ve had so many negative comments and verbal abuse pretty much every time I’ve been out on my own with Matthew,” Adams said.
“My husband checked with the landlady to ensure there wouldn’t be an issue in order to reassure me, as our son was quite excitable after a long journey on a warm bus.”
She continued: “Our son is usually very happy and sociable, he loves being out and about. However, quite often this can result in a very high pitched screaming or yelling to express this enjoyment, often accompanied by throwing his arms about and banging his head on his wheelchair, which is part of his sensory processing disorder that he developed after the illness.”
Matthew is non-verbal, having contracted viral encephalitis as a 6-month-old. Brain swelling from his illness caused damage that limits his ability to communicate. The family includes three other children, and they sometimes need to split up on family outings to accommodate Matthew's accessibility needs.
“On the occasions when we can do things like this, it’s nice to be able to enjoy typical family pursuits and spend time with all the family instead of splitting up like we often do,” she said.
Huffington Post also interviewed Tate, who stands by her post.
“It can be difficult enough for parents to take out children in wheelchairs, so to be turned away from somewhere when you do take them out is just awful,” she said.
Adams also spoke with Bored Panda, saying that how Matthew is treated in public can be a reflection of how we all treat each other.
"I think an emphasis on ‘treat others as you would wish to be treated’ type mentality needs to become the norm across all of society and age ranges," she said.
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