A mum has thanked a pub landlady for making her family feel welcome, as she usually avoids busy places because they’re often made to feel they’re “ruining other people’s evenings” due to her 13-year-old son Matthew’s disability.
Matthew is severely brain damaged and sometimes makes loud noises and waves his arms about, so before the family visited The Barrel pub, in Sheffield, Leila Adams’ husband decided to check with the landlady, Steph Tate, whether it would be ok for them to be there.
“I’ve had so many negative comments and verbal abuse pretty much every time I’ve been out on my own with Matthew,” Adams told HuffPost UK.
“My husband checked with the landlady to ensure there wouldn’t be an issue n order to reassure me, as our son was quite excitable after a long journey on a warm bus.”
Tate said that at first she was confused about why the family felt they needed to ask for permission, but when she was told about the abuse they have received in the past she was “heartbroken”.
“It can be difficult enough for parents to take out children in wheelchairs, so to be turned away from somewhere when you do take them out is just awful,” she said.
Matthew contracted viral encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, when he was six months old, which left him brain damaged. He is now non-verbal and a full-time wheelchair user.
Adams said: “Our son is usually very happy and sociable, he loves being out and about. However, quite often this can result in a very high pitched screaming or yelling to express this enjoyment, often accompanied by throwing his arms about and banging his head on his wheelchair, which is part of his sensory processing disorder that he developed after the illness.”
Adams said that Tate’s understanding meant she felt more confident, “which allowed my husband to enjoy the evening and not worry about me getting upset and stressed”.
“On the occasions when we can do things like this it’s nice to be able to enjoy typical family pursuits and spend time with all the family instead of splitting up like we often do,” she said.
After the evening, Tate felt moved to post about the encounter on the pub’s Facebook page. “My intention is not to embarrass the parent who I spoke to yesterday, it has played on my mind all night about how this man must have felt asking me if his child would be accepted in here. It then got me thinking about how many other people must be in the same position,” she wrote.
“Whether you need us to get you extension leads to plug specialist equipment in, help moving tables/chairs for wheelchairs or any other help you may need, everyone is welcome in my pub and help will always be offered by all of my staff.
“If you’re sat at home with a disabled child, partner or friend and feel on edge about taking them anywhere due to fear of someone making comments please feel free to bring them here. If I find anyone making negative comments or being disrespectful they will be asked to leave not you.”
Her post received more than 1,800 likes and was shared by more than 800 people. The overwhelmingly positive response has moved both her and Adams, who said she was surprised by the support.