The hardest thing about being a parent to a child with special needs isn’t necessarily what you have to do for your child, but rather the things other people do that are completely out of your hands. Amanda Jean Braun found herself in this situation while out to eat with her family at Outback Steakhouse in Glen Burnie, Maryland. Overall, it was a pretty pleasant night, which is why the mom was completely taken aback when the manager asked them to leave because a customer had complained about her 4-year-old son who has special needs. Outraged, Braun has turned to Facebook to share their story in hopes it will reach others far and wide.
As Braun explains in her post, her son, Killian, was born with a neurological disorder called childhood apraxia of speech, which affects his speech and, as a result, the way he communicates and behaves with others. “He is a very energetic kid with much to say, however when he speaks his words are unclear,” she explains.
A few minutes after their food arrived, the manager came over to the table to see how their meals were. But it became very clear that there was an ulterior motive to his visit. Essentially, another diner had put in a noise complaint about the little boy, and although the manager explained he was “very uncomfortable” by the situation, he asked them to finish their meals and leave. Clearly missing the mark, he offered the family a $20 credit to the restaurant to use at a later date.
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was in total shock,” the mom admits. “But needless to say, there isn’t going to be a later date. Why would I subject my son and the rest of my family to that type of discrimination? What would ever make me want to return? Would we be asked to leave again if my son were to be loud?”
Since sharing her story on Facebook, Braun says she is on a mission to get in touch with corporate. “This is not ok and I’m not stopping here,” she insists. She’s urging others to share her story so that Outback is held accountable for the insensitive way they handled this situation. “Outback labels itself as a family-friendly restaurant, just not families with special needs,” the frustrated mom writes.
Since her post has gone viral, many have flocked to it with messages of support and frustration on behalf of the family. As a response, Outback Steakhouse provided a statement to ABC7 saying, “we’ve been in contact with the family and have personally apologized. We strive to make sure all guests feel comfortable and welcomed in our restaurants and we fell short. We’re learning from what happened and training our team so we can better serve our diverse guest population.”
The restaurant chain has reportedly provided several apologies and offered gift cards, as well as a donation to an organization that works with Killian.
“The anger has subsided, and I’m left with sadness for my son and his future struggles of being in public,” Braun tells ABC7.
Another mom, Brynn Burger, who also has a child with special needs, recently turned to Facebook sharing what every special needs parent wants ‘neurotypical’ parents to know. It’s a message that’s particularly relevant following this unfortunate series of events: “We don’t usually make it through getting ready to leave the house, enjoying a meal or even bedtime without a major disruption,” she says. “That means when we actually do, it is a milestone and we will all but throw confetti and have a trophy engraved…We need you to listen, even if you don’t totally understand.”
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