Disabled kids and public politeness

I have several friends who have non-neuro-typical kids. I feel for them, and I support their efforts to give their kids as normal a life as possible. And I realize that they must face a lot of insensitive jerkwads in public who curl their lips or even make nasty comments over harmless but odd behaviors.

Understandably, these folks are interested in stories of discrimination and hardship for similar kids, and I will often see them post stories on Facebook about such incidents. Only, it seems to me that often the parents of such disabled kids are making a huge stink over people objecting to behaviors that aren’t just a bit odd, but which no one would ever dream of tolerating from a neurotypical person, and which actually impinge on normal enjoyment of activities. There seems to be a growing notion that every disabled child has a right to engage in all activities a child might enjoy, no matter what, and anyone who even accidentally, slightly impinges on this right is a monstrous bigot who is deliberately victimizing the children *because *of their disability.

Case in point: customers at Panera asked an employee to do something about a child’s obnoxiously loud shoes. Probably customers and employee alike assumed they were these stupid novelty shoes. And when the mother explained they were medically necessary, the employee was very nice, but the mother felt so victimized she fled crying, and demanded the chain issue a public apology. When my friend posted this story, she was outraged that people were being such assholes to disabled people.

I’ve also read stories of parents offended that their children having meltdowns in movie theaters or restaurants were not welcomed to stay, of someone being mortally offended at the cruelty of a restaurant patron moving to a table farther from her autistic child who was constantly vocalizing, and a parent demanding that her local girl scout troop pay for a sign language interpreter for every outing so her daughter could participate.

Am I just being insensitive, or have some of these folks gotten so used to battling for decent treatment and reasonable opportunity that they can’t see the line between reasonable and ridiculous anymore? My thought is that if your child is screaming in a theater or restaurant, regardless of the cause, you need to remove them. And yeah, that can suck, but it hardly seems correct to assume everyone else just needs to put up with the screaming. If my child needed help to enjoy extracurricular activities, I’d probably wind up chaperoning all the time, not telling the other volunteers they needed to pony up money to pay a professional to do it.

Other friends of my friend are asserting that even if the kid in the story was fully able and the shoes were a lark, anyone in such a low-rent restaurant as Panera would have no right to complain anyway. Tell me I’m not the crazy one here! (Though I personally wouldn’t bother complaining, I sure have thought some annoyed thoughts at parents who brought similarly-shod children to public places!)

WRT the Panera incident, both parties blew it out of proportion. Panera is not fine dining, and anyone that complained about my 2 year olds squeaky novelty shoes is just going to have to deal with it. The mother blew the complaint out of proportion as well, and should have just rolled her eyes at the employee, sat down and ate her lunch with her family.

But in general, I do not think you are being insensitive to parents who wish to keep their autistic child in the movie theater while they are screaming “Monkey…monkey…monkey…” over and over.

My problem with the Panera story is that I have no way of knowing whether the little girl’s shoes were universally annoying. There is evidence that they were, since there were apparently enough complaints to make management do something. But I don’t know. Maybe it was just one person complaining and that person has super-sensitive hearing, and THEY were seeking special accommodation at the expense of someone else’s.

If the little girl was tap dancing, then yeah, bad girl. But she’s disabled. Don’t know how much noise she would have been able to make if she was disabled, although it’s possible mobility problems made the squeakiness worse.

I don’t know what the solution is. To me, it almost seems like dealing with stuff like this is one of those unavoidable trade-offs of a more tolerant society.

If the Panera employee had been an asshole after she explained about the shoes, that would be fucked up. But as it apparently happened, I don’t see what they did wrong. I’m having a hard time imagining how the shoes could have been that loud though.

As for kids screaming in public or whatever, past a certain point, yeah, it doesn’t matter the reason, remove them when possible, especially if it’s somewhere people are trying to enjoy themselves like a restaurant as opposed to just running a necessary errand. It doesn’t matter if the kid is doing anything wrong or not. Babies can’t help themselves from crying either but if your baby is crying excessively you still have to be considerate to those around you.

If you read the article, nobody is blowing the Panera story out of proportion except maybe some readers. The mother says she understands and she doesn’t hold anything against Panera, and Panera apologized for any pain they caused and stated they do not intend to discriminate. While the mother was initially hurt (and who doesn’t get flustered at being unexpectedly criticized by a stranger about a sensitive topic?), It’s not an outrage story, it’s more of a PSA that some people wear funny shoes.

If the mother isn’t pissed, why is this even a story, then? Who made it come to light?

Anybody complaining about a kids squeaky shoes in Panera is blowing the situations out of proportion. Any parent that runs out of store crying when an employee asks their kid to remove their shoes, is blowing the situation out of proportion.

As someone who actually makes orthopedic modifications to shoes for part of my living now, and has seen more pairs of custom-made and prescription shoes than most, I am trying to imagine what sort of thing would mandate shoes that are squeaky and can not be made unsqueaky.

The only thing that comes to mind is improperly bonded layers in the soles, which is shoddy workmanship. Now I feel bad that this little girl not only has to wear special shoes but that they might also be poorly made… It’s bad enough to have to wear orthopedic shoes, it’s worse when they call attention to themselves.

It’s in the article. The mother is trying to raise awareness for orthopedic disabilities, and remind people that some people wear special footwear.

In an article I read the squeak serves as feedback to let the girl know when she was walking with a proper gate (heel to toes). It is part of the function of the shoes that they squeak. They provide both ankle support and feedback.

Missed edit: Here’s the link http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/14/panera-toddler-shoes-emma-duke_n_4595122.html

I imagine with a little kid, it’s critical she always walk in them while having the therapy to learn to walk.

Sometimes it can be too difficult to remove a child who is having a meltdown, as it can make it worse and possible cause physical harm to the child or others. I have been studying education of children with special needs particularly those on the autism spectrum. Now that I have some insight, the next time I see a child having a meltdown, I am going to approach the parent(s) and ask if i can help. Something as simple as getting a bottle of water for the child or small squishy toy to give them 1 sense to focus on can help alleviate a meltdown. And a bit of kindness and understanding will go a long way in helping the parent.

While I am all for mainstreaming and the rights of the disabled to be out in public there’s a certain point at which the rights of the disabled bump up against the rights of everyone else.

There are certain forums where if you can’t trust your child to behave you shouldn’t be bringing your child along, and if your child does unexpectedly act up you need to remove said child, meltdown or no. Squeaky shoes in Panera? Deal with it, general public - it’s not a silent place and it’s not a state dinner. Kid shouting a phrase over and over in a movie theater? Sorry, not acceptable behavior, please leave until child leans how to be quiet in consideration of others.

Probably like this? To be fair, that’s pretty annoying. I have no idea what Panera is, so I can’t judge how appropriate that is for the venue, but it is pretty friggin annoying.

I was recently in China and India, and these squeaky shoes are very popular there. I assumed it was to make it easier to keep up with your toddler since you can track them by sound. The shoes are pretty obnoxious when you first hear them (especially if there’s more than one pair in the area), but they quickly become background noise. The Panera customers were being overly sensitive.

Panera is a casual dining. More classy than McDonald’s, but not fine or formal dining. It’s a public place with a fair amount of background noise due to the proximity of other people.

The mom left crying? Sure it was petty for the other people at the restaurant to complain, but I don’t think her emotions set a good example for her own daughter.

Obviously if her daughter is wearing orthopedic shoes, its because she has some kind of disability. But life can be tough on people that are different, and they have to learn early on to cope with ignorant people being (unwittingly) rude. But for the mom to react like that I feel like it implies to the daughter that its shameful to be in that situation, and I hope the daughter doesn’t grow up with some wierd hangups about the fact that she has to wear some goofy sounding shoes because everytime she was with her mom somewhere public and someone complained, the mom had them leave while crying.

Huh. I saw the claim on the shoe website that they actually encourage proper stride, but I figured it was just marketing bullshit. Ignorance fought.

And yeah, the more I think about it, the more I’m rolling my eyes at a customer asking an employee to ask the parent to take the shoes off. If something like that is really bothering you, at least nut up and say directly to the parent, “Hi, I have a tremendous migraine and the squeaky shoes are like railroad spikes in my brain - would it be possible to change her shoes?” or something.

Sounds like shitty design. They should make the shoes so they only squeak when you’re messing up the gait, not the other way around. Like an audible cattle prod for your feet.

Small children do better responding to positive reinforcement. Making the squeak is fun for the child, so it’s an incentive to do it right. You want the child to learn the correct gait, just not avoid doing a wrong gait. Plus, there are many ways to walk wrong, and the shoes would have to be engineered to make the squeaks for all those possibilities. By making the squeak for when you do it correctly, you get more consistent results.

I think it’s pretty clever.