Thursday, June 4, 2009

No Strollers or Wheelchairs Allowed!

I want to start out this post with a disclaimer that I rarely play the "handicap card." I try to do all the things that I need to do with Gavin, such as going places, without acting like I have a child with disabilities. I have been told by several doctors that we are eligible for a handicap sticker for our van, but I told them that we don't need it. I'm not handicapped, so why do we need one? I'd rather save the spots available for people that really need them. It IS more difficult having to walk further sometimes with all of his equipment and especially when it's so cold and snowy outside in the winter, but I CAN do it! Someday I may reevaluate the need for this, but for now I'm fine. And, I only mention that he is handicapped if there is no other option available for us to do what we want and need to do.

Having said all of this, yesterday we went to the mall. I normally don't allow Caleb to play on the children's play area at the mall because it's a germ fest, but yesterday he was behaving really well and there weren't many children playing there, so I consented. There was a sign that said "No Strollers." I saw 2 other strollers in the area and I had Gavin hooked up to his feeding pump, so I decided to break the rules and wheeled him on in. I was watching Caleb play with a new buddy he had met for just a little while, when a security guy came and told me that "strollers aren't allowed." I said, "O.K., We'll leave", but then I asked if the "rule applied to Children that have special needs?" He said, "Yes, if I bend the rule for you then I have to bend the rule for everyone." I understood his dilema. Since Gavin was hooked up to his pump, was half asleep and doesn't sit up at all on his own anyway, we had to leave the play area. I was fine with this and surprisingly, Caleb was too!

We walked around the mall some more and I started thinking that it wasn't quite as fine as I had originally thought that it was! I went back to the customer service area to speak with the security guard. I asked him if the answer would have been different if he was in a wheelchair. He said, "No." So, I said, "Children who are handicapped and unable to get around on their own aren't allowed to enjoy your play area?" He told me, "Not if they are in strollers and wheelchairs. It wouldn't be fair to others if we let them go in when others can't." This response did not settle very well with me! So, I'm thinking to myself, "How fair is it to exclude a child just because they can't crawl or walk?!" I said this to him and I also said that "I'm sure that others would understand the circumstances and just be thankful that their child doesn't have to be in a wheelchair!" Life isn't always fair! It's not fair to me that Gavin had a stroke, due to hospital error, and now he will probably never be able to get up and go play with his brother in the play area! It's not fair that other children will be excluded from so many normal childhood experiences, just because they can't walk!

The security guard said that he understood my feelings, but that I had to understand his rules. He also told me that I should "plan accordingly for the day and come to the mall when your son is NOT on his feeding pump, so that it would be easier to carry him in." (Yes, he said this to me!) I said, "Yes, I could do this, but what about when he gets too big to be carried in? What about other children who are too big now to walk in, but their parents want their other children to be able to enjoy things too and they want their special needs child to not be left out of the fun." Gavin may not be able to sit up, crawl or walk, but he truly finds and shows pleasure in hearing his brothers and other kids playing. He smiles and yells and he is happy as can be while being a part of all the fun! Why should he and others be excluded because life wasn't fair to them?!

All of this conversation with the security guard got me and Gavin no where, but I couldn't just sit back and accept "their rules." I was very calm and I do understand his point to some extent, but it really infuriates me to know that because my child has to live a lot of his life from a stroller or wheelchair, he also has to be excluded from so many things! And, don't even get me started on entrances into stores and other places! Since having Gavin, I've noticed how difficult it is for people who are wheelchair bound to just get into places! I realize that things have improved over the years, but they have not improved enough for this Momma!

Gavin has had to go through a lot in his short life and he has had to be tough a lot of the time!

This makes me want to stand up and be "tough!" for him and others like him! Because of him, I will most likely have to encounter many more outings like this, but I can tell you one thing, I will fight for his rights and I'll do it with a smile on my face, because I believe Gavin would want me to, for him and all of his buddies!

***Oh, and I do plan on sending a nice, friendly and educational letter to the management of this mall. I believe that they need to, at least, be made aware of my feelings and hopefully they will take them into consideration. If not for Gavin, then for some other child who wants to play there one day!***

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing." 2 Timothy 4:7-8


Jessica mommy to Alex/ RTS said...

Way to go!!!!! I hope things change there. Even if they dont, way to go!!!!

Beverly said...

Good for you! I'm glad you are writing to the mall also, they need to consider the feelings of everyone. What if the child didn't have special needs, but the parent was in a wheelchair? That child should be able to play and the parent should be able to enter the area. There are laws regarding handicap accessability so eveyone can be included in "normal" everyday activities! If this mall wants your money they better let you use the facility just like everyone else!

Tamara said...

OH my gosh.... O.K., you did a lot better than I would have done! I would have screamed to the top of my lungs, "THATS DISCRIMINATION!!!!!!" and then I would of shot off a lot of other things as well!!!!! I can't believe he actually said for you to "plan your day..." Oh if I had a sub sandwich I would of shoved it in his mouth and then said, "Oh looks like you should of planned your day for this angry mommas response to your idiocy! I am proud of you for going back to him and saying something! Im proud of you for writing a letter too! YOU GO GIRL!!!!!!!!

ANewKindOfPerfect said...

I am glad you are writing a letter! I imagine that the mall management will have a different, non-discriminatory answer.

I hate how much we HAVE to advocate for things that should been automatic.

Marilyn in Auburn Hills said...

Alicia, I am ashamed that our society has such lack of knowledge or feelings for families who are dealing with tough issues. Gavin didn't ask to be discriminated against, nor did he ask for a "Go, Girl!" Mom, but he got both!!! Sorry about the first; thrilled for the second. Will pray for your continued courage. Maybe God put you in such a place in time, in order to fight for children's rights! I repeat, "Go get 'em, Girl!" Marilyn Miller <><

Alicia said...

Way to go! I'm right there with you.

Fair? You wanna talk fair?? What about a child who is physically disabled, not mentally? How is it fair to the child who is confined to a wheelchair who fully understands that they are being excluded because of their disability?

And like you said, Gavin understands joy when he sees and hears it. He gets a kick out of watching his brothers play and have fun. How is it fair to deny him that? Life didn't deal Gavin a fair hand.

How could that man look you in the face, better yet, look that sweet boy Gavin in the face, and tell you to plan better!!! How dare he! I'd be willing to bet (I know I might be wrong) he has never known a child with a disability who was close to him, like his own child, or niece, nephew or grandchild. If he did, he would probably see things a little differently and have a little more compassion. I know he is just doing his job, but c'mon, have a heart!

Way to go you Warrior Mama!! And way to go tough little man Gavin! You both rock!!

Hope said...

Oh No he didn't! I'm so mad after reading this. That is discrimination and I'd be calling the mall manager or whoever and raising heck! That is so not right. I'm so sorry you and your boys had to deal with such a close minded idiot. ((Hugs))

Lacey said...

Oh man, I would have had a hayday with that a#@ hole. I just read someones post that's child is special needs but higher functioning and she didn't want her going to a school with severly disabled kids because they would "scare" her. It kind of made me mad, would you be mad? I think, you don't want your child prejudged but you just did the same thing.
Your a better person than me when it comes to the handicapped placker. I use it every time I have him, because I notice the majority of people that have one are old or fat, neither of which is a handicap. I understand someone may have something that you can't see, but how many? My aunts doctor thinks everyone over 65 needs a handicap pass, I think that is bull, my aunt is very healthy and can walk.

Michelle said...

I am so out of joint right this minute...panties in a major wad....first off, you are so much calmer than me. By the end of it, I would have had a manager out there and been in tears, bc I cry over EVERY.THING. You know, I don't know about MI, but IN has a handicapped discrimination council or something...I think you should look into it there. That is total complete discrimination adn the guard was nothing but down right rude to tell you to better plan for your day. My hair is standing on end....I'm going to have to go pray....pray....pray....GRRRRR. What nerve.

Michelle said...

Give me the number of that mall....I'll call for you......grrrr....

connie said...

SOunds to me like Gavin has a huge voice, becoming more confident every day.

Aren't you glad God gave him to you? He is changing you, huh?

shan said...

I am so proud of you! I struggle often with "turning the other cheek" or standing up and being tough. It is a very difficult call to make but in this decision I think you were wonderful! In standing up for Gavin you stood up for more than just him, but kiddo's like ours everywhere. Hopefully the next time that security guard see's a special needs child in a chair he'll pause and consider.... hopefully.

Inspired said...

You go girl!!


Anonymous said...

You know, you might think of posting the name and address of this mall a) to boycot b) so that all of us Mommies on here can send letters to the management. Ever heard of the Americans with Disabilities Act? As much as I don't like them, now is the time to trot out the ACLU and any other acronym you can think of (ARC comes to mind - they are usually really good at "educating").

You are sooooooo much better than I am. My response to the planning thing would have been, "Yeah, I'll have to plan my day around A$$hole Barney Fife rent-a-cops. Maybe we can plan our court date around feeding time too!!!!!" GRRRRRRRRR.

Hugs to you and Gavin!

Steph and Christopher OurLittleMan

Amy said...

ARRRRGH!! This enrages me!!!!!! I am so proud of how you handled this and am also very glad to know you will be sending a letter to them. It may take many squeaky wheelchair and stroller wheels to make them change their policy, but you are certainly doing your part in hopefully making it happen!

Are you SURE you don't want to be a parent rep on one of the Governor's disability boards??? I have a spot I need to fill!!!! :o)

Annette Gysen said...

I really thought that people were more enlightened in this day and age than they apparently are. This situation, and one with a cousin of mine who is mentally handicapped, just shows there's a long way to go. And moms like you stepping up will hopefully make a difference. You definitely need to write that letter!

Anonymous said...

Iam so glad you were so calm. i definitely would not have been. espeicially when lynsy was a baby or toddler.lynsy is our daughter she is 23 now she also suffered a stroke when she was 7 years old due to a doctors negligence.she was already developmentally delayed. she still does not have a diagnosis .sheis said to have an genetic disorder of unknown origin.we have faced so much in our life with lynsy .even situations like yours once we were asked to take lynsy over to her sunday school class early because they were going to do communion and they were afraid lynsy would yell out while people were praying . of course that meant no communion for me. but for the most part the people at that church totally welcomed lynsy .there were steps to get into that church and the men there would carry lynsy in and out for me every wk. this went on for five yrs. then i switched churches as it was bcoming to difficult and it was hard for me to teach lynsy to stop yelling out as i needed so much help getting out of the worship area.wellyou keep advacating for your son remember we are there voice .so you keep it up and like my mom always tells me keep your chin up .there is so much love out there even though once in a while you run into situations like that one you keep on fighting for your son and do it with love as JESUS would have done .God bless you and your beautiful can e-mail me any time if you ever want to talk my e-mail is kathair63@aol.thanks for sharing your story.

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