Neurodiversity on show

9 Jul

I think I’ve talked before about how the concept of neurodiversity is – as well as being heavily personal – not necessarily something that most people know actually exists as a defined word. What I mean is, some people do things or hold views that are quite obviously neurodiverse but might never have heard of the word or concept.

Googe Alerts sent me a fantastic blog post this morning which was about a story I’d missed due to personal illness. It seems a young autistic girl had gone to a restaurant with her family and were ejected because the girl had a meltdown and another family refused to pay for their meal until the family of the autistic girl were removed.

Renee, the blog owner, makes it clear how repugnant the attitude of both the restaurant (and this intolerant person who demanded the girls family were ejected) were:

Now I will admit that I don’t know much about autism but I do know enough to realize that those that have it deserve the same respect and dignity as anyone else.

I would _love_ it, if that was everyones starting point. How nice would it be to have that attitude as the prevailing one when it comes to autism (or disability in general)?

Thats Neurodiversity right there folks.

Renee, goes on to detail some very intolerant responses to the reported story. They’re nothing that most of us who are either autistic or parents of autistic people have not heard in one shape or other before:

I don’t care if a child is autistic or what, the child needs behaviour modification. In this case, the child should have been removed from the restaurant by a parent until the child calmed down.

Thats someone who doesn’t get it. Thats someone whos probable priority as far as disability goes is not to respect the persons essential difference but to try and ignore it and make sure it does’t inconvenience them.

Thats what Neurodiversity challenges.

I’ll leave the last word to Renee, along with my thanks:

When we refuse to see people who are living with a form of disability whether it be physical, or mental as worthy of sharing our space we are constructing them as less than. It is in this disharmony of worth and value that ‘othering’ occurs. Our ability to project difference onto others leads to dire consequences for those that are unable to fit into a model of what society has accepted as “normal.” Despite the fact that we are individuals and no true norm exists, socially what we expect is conformity to preconceived ideas of what validates personhood.

8 Responses to “Neurodiversity on show”

  1. Renee July 9, 2008 at 09:16 #

    No thanks is necessary. I believe in human dignity for all. Thanks for introducing me to a new word.. Neurodiversity…my only fear in writing this post was that somehow I would use the wrong words to get my point across. When you are an ally and are totally unfamiliar with the subject matter sometimes despite your best intentions you end up using abelist language. I hope that my post helped to raise awareness just a little. As I said, everyone matters.

  2. jypsy July 9, 2008 at 10:08 #

    This is part of the outcome:
    “Smitties would like to become a sponser of the Autism Cause. I [Sarah Seymour] have put them in contact with Autism Speaks and suggested they sell blue puzzle pieces that people can write their names on to raise money for the Autism Speaks Walk on Sept 7 in Edmonton as well as have some kind of special fundraising day, like Tim Hortons has a camp day.”

    Ms. Seymour believes in educating people about the autism epidemic. She claims the autism rate was 1 in 10,000 thirty years ago…

    Neurodiversity …. ?

  3. Kev July 9, 2008 at 10:18 #

    Bad marks to Smitties 😦 (I’m guessing they’re the restaurant in question?)

  4. jypsy July 9, 2008 at 10:31 #

    Actually it’s “Smitty’s Family Restaurant”, a chain of “pancake houses”.

  5. jypsy July 9, 2008 at 11:46 #

    Alex’s relationship with Smitty’s (And here)

  6. farmwifetwo July 9, 2008 at 13:57 #

    I would have removed my child until they calmed down. But then again, I expect someone to remove their NT child for the same behaviour.

    Fair is fair… after all.

    My children do very well in restaurants, better than a lot of NT children that we watch getting away with things we wouldn’t allow, but we’ve been teaching them since they were very small.


  7. Sharon July 9, 2008 at 19:29 #

    I read about this too a few days ago and even contacted the restaurant. They wrote back to say:

    “We would like to thank you for your email about the incident at our
    Smitty’s location on Stony Plain Road in Edmonton. Smitty’s Canada
    feels that while the family’s experience was unfortunate, we are
    confident that it was an isolated occurrence. Our president has had
    communication with the franchise owners of that location and is
    currently trying to contact the family as well. The information that we
    do have indicates that franchisee owner and the family have spoken and
    that there has been resolution to the issue.

    Smitty’s Canada would like to assure you that our franchisees take great pride in their ability to ensure that all of our customers receive great customer service. On occasion we may miss the mark but our intentions are to always give great service to all of our guests. We know that you have many choices for your dining pleasure but we hope that you will continue to choose our restaurants as your family dining destination.

    Thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your concerns and we hope we have addressed this issue in a fashion that is satisfactory to you.

    Greg Liber
    Director of Operations
    Smitty’s Canada Limited”

    I don’t think they’ll mind me posting this email as it confirms that they are trying to improve their attitude to all customers. It’s a pity they’ve fallen for the Autism epidemic rhetoric, but in this case they have to appease the offended mum and that’s her way of looking at it.

    I think it’s worth realising that this happened in a family restaurant during breakfast, and the family were only asked to leave because another table was refusing to pay saying her crying had disturbed them (grr). The mum presumably knew what she was doing and whether removing her or dealing with her there and then was the best tactic.

  8. Patrick July 10, 2008 at 18:28 #

    Now I know I’m about to make a hyperbolic or maybe inappropiate to some comparison, but for an alternative look at the situation:

    … I refuse to pay my bill until that person having the (choose your favorite!seizure/heart attack/fit of choking/arrogant attitude/senior moment) is removed…

    Kind of silly for parallels, but too far out? I don’t think so.

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