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Has This Happened to You?

This post is from Michael Rosen, Executive Vice President of Strategic Communications at Autism Speaks. 

Sadly, it’s happened to all of us. It’s the reason we can never stop at Autism Speaks in our mission to raise awareness.

On Sunday I was in a Lululemon store on the Upper West Side of Manhattan picking up a gift for someone. My son, 26 years old, severely affected with autism and nonverbal, began motioning to me that he needed to go to the bathroom. Slowly at first, then with more urgency.  So many of us have been in this position, right? He’s not going to make it safely out of the store.

Your first thought is paralysis, of all the times and places, why is it always when it seems the hardest? My second thought was, this isn’t my son’s fault and it shouldn’t be hard for the store employees to understand.

So I approached…

“Excuse me, can my son please use your rest room?”

“I’m sorry, they are not for public use. They are in a private area.”

“My son is disabled, could he please use it for just a minute? You can come with us.”

“No I’m sorry, they are not for the public. There is a rest room a few stores down in the basement of the Bed Bath and Beyond. He can go over there.”

Isn’t it amazing as the numbers of those with autism soar and the understanding about the disabled community grows that some companies and employees just seem to think arrogance and a lack of understanding are acceptable?

So they have clearly lost my business, I only hope that the management that turned us away, will someday find their way…