Having a disability in a public space can be a lot to deal with.
The person with the disability – and their caretaker if there is one – can feel ostracized and humiliated, singled out for something totally beyond their control.
The larger community, being uncomfortable, can also react in abysmal ways to their own discomfort.
So, what happens when a mother takes her disabled daughter into public and has had quite enough of the stares and ridicule?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) ERODZAME when she came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for judgment.
“AITA for taking my daughter with brain damage to Disney and possibly “ruining” other people’s trips?”
The OP gave some background information.
A little backstory:
“My (25F) toddler (3F) was born with brain damage.”
“It causes her to have difficulty understanding a lot of things.”
“She also can’t talk.”
“Her only form of communication is screaming/crying.”
“She also makes very loud noises when she is happy. I want to make this very clear, no amount of discipline or teaching her will ever help with this.”
“But despite all her difficulties, she has fallen in love with all things Disney.”
The happiest place.
“Because of this, I decided to take her to Disney.”
“I did my best to prepare for things. I planned the rides she could do around times that would be less busy. I brought toys and activities to distract her through wait times.”
“But things happen.”
“We’d had people be rude to us and her all day long, mostly little things.”
“A group of teenage girls pointed, laughed, and even took pictures of my daughter as she did her best to eat her lunch.:”
“People rolled their eyes at us and made snide comments as she attempted to carry every stuffed Disney toy she saw.”
“But my final straw was when we were waiting in line for the Toy Story Alien ride.”
“She was able to see the ride from where we were in line, so of course, she started getting antsy.”
“I did my best to distract her, but I was failing.”
“She couldn’t wait any longer.”
“When the line wasn’t moving, she started to scream in frustration.”
“I picked her up to comfort her, but that made things worse. She started screaming louder and thrashing around.”
“People were staring and talking about her under their breath.”
‘“She needs to control her kid.”’
‘“That’s just ridiculous. Why bring your kid if they act like that?”’
Everything was tolerable until…
“Finally, someone said, ‘A swift spanking will fix that.’ I’d had enough and snapped that she had brain damage and she couldn’t help it. I got so upset that we just ended up leaving.”
“At first, I thought they were the AH, but after hearing a friend’s opinion, I’m beginning to question myself.”
“They said her screaming is unpleasant, and it possibly ruined people’s day.”
OP was left to wonder,
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some pointed out Disney’s accessibility resources.
“NTA, and when you go again, arrange for the Disney Disability Pass.”
“It will help you cut down on the time spent in the lines that your little one has such trouble coping with.”
“And don’t be shy about seeking advice from cast members, guest relations, and the Disability Services team.”
“They’re all there to help and have a wealth of knowledge about how to make your visit as easy and enjoyable as possible.”
“(No, I do not & never have worked for Disney, I just have friends who have benefited tremendously from these services and the available accommodations)”
“Edit- Wow. Thank you all so very much for the upvotes, awards and kind words. I’m having a rather sh*te day, and all this generosity and kindness is more welcome than you know. 💕” ~ rapt2right
“We did the video chat registration with them yesterday, and they didn’t require a Dr. note.”
“My husband is a disabled veteran with back/spinal issues, and we’re going to Disney for the first time next week.”
“The wait for a chat was quite a while, but the cast member was exceptional.” ~ bbreland
Others took a kinder view of the bystanders.
“NTA, but I also you can’t be mad at ‘the public’ because there are a lot of bad attitudes and entitled kids, so they don’t know and are just reacting.”
“If you worry about their feelings though, it just makes it worse for you.”
“You should be able to go and enjoy it, and I wish that these experiences haven’t gotten so expensive/massively packed, which makes it difficult to enjoy the experience or get in and get out quick.”
“But it sounds like you got a lot of suggestions for the next trip!”
“Not Disney, but we went to universal with a wheelchair for my grandpa and aunt to share/use, and our entire party constantly got sent off into the fast pass or express lanes because they also doubled as wheelchair access for most rides.”
“Sometimes they said we go up the exit lane and meet them at the ride, and they will let us in the next 1-3 rides when they can fit us on.”
“And they can walk, but do have disability each, but after 2 hours wouldn’t have the strength to walk.”
“So that’s why we had the wheelchair.& as long as he could walk up to the ride and get on – we got an express entree and ride all the rides.”
“It was super nice how they treated us every time when we just asked which way do wheelchairs go for ramps, and they went above and beyond to let our whole party on as a group instead of just the wheelchair+1.”
“So you might have a great experience next time.” ~ Ryoko_Kusanagi69
“A good reminder of why we should all take an extra second to consider that we don’t know what others are going through when we get frustrated in public.”
“If someone deems you the a**hole here, what do they expect you to do?”
“Stay holed up in your house forever to keep everyone else comfortable? That’s not fair to your child.”
“People need to lighten up and lead with compassion.” ~ jmgolden33
“You are not wrong.”
“Now, the bad side.”
“How did you react when you saw parents out with a kid screaming in your late teens or early 20s?”
“You might have been chill.”
“But most aren’t.”
“Expecting the public at large to be chill is rough going.”
“To expect it at Disney where you have families who this is maybe a 1-time trip where they are spending a ton of money to stand in line basically is gonna fray nerves at best of times.”
“Don’t take it personally and get disney disability pass next time. Though Don’t be shocked if you still hear mutterings.” ~ Competitive_Parking_
Although, not everyone felt so charitable.
“Telling parents that they should beat their children to make them behave is actually deranged behavior, and I have zero sympathy for people who are allergic to minding their own business.” ~ fungistate
“No, you don’t need to react to a kid having a meltdown in public, period.”
“Especially in a theme park, which is overwhelming at best. Mind your business.” ~ Klutzy-Sort178
“OP I’m a happily child-free person, mostly because I basically have zero patience for any living creature that isn’t a dog.”
“But how these people treated you and your child is absolutely unacceptable.”
“They had no business making nasty comments to you or her.”
“Children are loud, and they scream, and they are bursting with energy that they don’t know what to do with, so anyone going to a freaking theme park with rides specifically for children shouldn’t be expecting anything less than chaos!”
“And as for the people pointing and laughing at your girl, they are just plain cruel, and I hope they step on Lego every morning.”
“I’m so sorry you were treated this way, and I hope these comments encourage you to give Disney another chance.” ~ Jinx983
OP did return to share her gratitude.
“Thank you all.”
“You’ve made me feel so much better and have given me the courage to return to Disney with my daughter.”
“I just need to stop feeling guilty for us having a place in the world. Also, thank you for all your advice! I wish I were given that info from the beginning.”
“I responded this to someone else, but now feel it is necessary to add here.”
“Believe me, I know how annoying and frustrating (agonizing even) it can be to listen to her scream. I do it every single day.'”
“I listen to it until I want to make myself go deaf so I don’t have to hear it anymore.”
“But despite all of that, I have compassion towards her and for any other parent experiencing what I experience.”
“I understand in ways parents of normal kids don’t.”
“I feel immensely guilty the moment she starts screaming in public. This is why I do my best to take her to places where there aren’t really any people.”
“But I knew Disney would be somewhere she’d truly be happy.”
“So I took her.”
“I guess if that makes me the AH, then so be it.”
“I just want my daughter to feel like she deserves to go anywhere she wants.”
“After reading all these supportive comments, I’m sorry if other people find us annoying, but I’m not taking away from her anymore. Thanks to those that showed support.”
There is a common misunderstanding that unless you are in a wheelchair, you are not disabled.
Plenty of disabilities are invisible to the naked eye or do not affect someone’s physical abilities at all.
Please remember that the next time someone around you is acting in a way you don’t understand – they are not there for you to understand.
We wish this mother and her daughter all the happiness on their next visit to the happiest place on earth.