Last week Malcolm, Bethany, Jeremiah, and I stepped through the back entrance to our somewhat local art museum.
Little did we know that Bethany would soon provide an extremely frightening lesson in autism/disability awareness for the employees who work there!
She quietly and without fanfare sat down on the floor in a corner in the museum’s basement hallway and covered her eyes.
This was not meltdown behavior, but to the untrained eye, it might look like one
However, she was not causing a scene!
Knowing that she needed a few minutes to recuperate and compose herself, we decided that Jeremiah and I should continue on through the museum while Malcolm waited for Bethany to feel better
Unbeknownst to Jerry and I, while we were merrily strolling our way through the museum’s exhibits, several of the employees respectfully inquired of Malcolm if everything was alright.
My husband explained that everything was fine, that Bethany had autism and she had just experienced a small seizure.
He let them know that she just needed a few quiet moments undisturbed to gather herself together.
But then she unfortunately fell asleep in the corner of the museum hallway.
Jeremiah and I quickly went through the whole museum.
My husband and Bethany never joined us.
When we returned to where we had left them, they were gone.
We found them sitting in the car in the parking lot.
My husband then recounted to me all that had transpired in our absence.
A supervisor of the museum had decided that Bethany’s SILENT and unobtrusive behavior was unacceptable.
She threatened that Malcolm better get her out of the museum or she would call the authorities to have her physically removed from the premises!
It was even suggested that he leave her alone sleeping on the floor while he went out to the get the car and move it closer to the museum door in order to make dragging her out to it easier!
Thank God Bethany only slept for a few minutes and woke up before any of that could happen!
When she woke up, Malcolm’s suggested they wait in the car and she calmly and cooperatively exited the museum.
No harm done!
The Supervisor’s reaction to Bethany’s seizure and autism was rude, insensitive, and disturbing to say the least!
Forcibly removing Bethany from the museum would most likely have sent her into a full blown, knock down, drag out, kicking and screaming meltdown.
A meltdown which might have resulted in a scene frighteningly similar to the one that Robert Saylor experienced when he was murdered by the police for refusing to leave a movie theater.
I sent a message saying as much to the museum’s President.
I received a message back from his assistant saying that he was very concerned and wanted me to call him.
Since it was my husband who had actually experienced the situation, I asked him to call the president back and explain everything that had transpired.
The president, who also just so happens to be on the board of the United Cerebral Palsy Association was appalled at his employee’s behavior.
He apologized and let us know that he had just arranged for the Cerebral Palsy Association to teach and train his employees about autism/disabilities and how to better handle situations such as this one!!
Just one more small step in bringing awareness of the issues that plague special needs individuals to the public eye!