Mom & Autistic child kicked out of Chicago Aladdin

Phantom4ever
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Yesterday, a mother and her autistic son were asked to leave the Cadillac Palace Theater in Chicago after the boy was deemed too disruptive. 

http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Theater-Boots-7-Year-Old-With-Autism-For-421953423.html

Should an autistic child's noise be accepted in the name of inclusivity?  We all know there are special performances (usually Disney shows) for people with autism. Not sure if that has been or will be offered for Aladdin's run in Chicago. Also, it's interesting that NBC Chicago refers to the touring house as a Broadway house. I wonder if, in the future, theaters will no longer ask disruptive audience members to leave if they appear to have autism. 

Updated On: 5/11/17 at 10:23 PM
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BrodyFosse123
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With all due respect to the mother, she is more than aware how her child responds to things and behaves in public.  It is her negligence to have chosen to take her autistic child to a theatrical production where they would be sitting amongst hundreds of people, in a dark auditorium and with live music.  It not only is rude but quite ignorant to expect people to ignore the situation due to the child's handicap.  She is an idiot for taking her child.  Period.  

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Harpz2006
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https://www.facebook.com/kelvinmoonloh/posts/10104340543612609

 

"For her to bring her child to the theater is brave. You don't know what her life is like. Perhaps, they have great days where he can sit still and not make much noise because this is a rare occurrence. Perhaps she chooses to no longer live in fear, and refuses to compromise the experience of her child. Maybe she scouted the aisle seat for a very popular show in case such an episode would occur. She paid the same price to see the show as you did for her family. Her plan, as was yours, was to have an enjoyable afternoon at the theater and slowly her worst fears came true."

Remember this post from a couple years ago? Very different perspective. BrodyFosse, how are we to know her child always responds like that? I teach second graders, some with special needs, and there are good days and bad days. I liked how Kevin Loh wrote everyone should be welcome to all performances, not just special performances. Prolonged tantrums- yes, I would think the mother would step out with him, but to be kicked out and not allowed back seems very wrong.

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My question would be - were the cast members the ones that actually complained? Because if so, that means the kid was a legitimate disruption (or enough of a distraction for cast to complain), and whether he had autism or not wouldn't actually matter. Needs more context. 

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When I saw School Of Rock in March there was an audience member in my row with special needs who kept moaning & groaning for most of Act 2. We were pretty close in the orchestra and the speakers were blaring, so I'm sure that didn't help. Although the audience member seemed quite uncomfortable for the first few minutes of Act 2, the audience seemed to not let it bother them and everyone (including myself) really enjoyed the show. I still believe people who are not able control themselves at live theatrical events should attend special designated performances so they don't ruin the experience for audience goers with more self control who are spending big bucks for a show without disturbances

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ZellMorrowsPledge said: "When I saw School Of Rock in March there was an audience member in my row with special needs who kept moaning & groaning for most of Act 2. We were pretty close in the orchestra and the speakers were blaring, so I'm sure that didn't help. Although the audience member seemed quite uncomfortable for the first few minutes of Act 2, the audience seemed to not let it bother them and everyone (including myself) really enjoyed the show. I still believe people who are not able control themselves at live theatrical events should attend special designated performances so they don't ruin the experience for audience goers with more self control who are spending big bucks for a show without disturbances

"

Well that sounds really good in principle. However, I vote that we should also have a special performance for rude people, people who just generally talk to their friends throughout the show. And maybe one for people who continually use their phones when they are asked not to. And certainly a special performance for my personal favorite... those people who crinkle their candy wrappers.

I have been in the theater with children/adults who have special needs and I am not going to lie, it's sometimes worrisome ..are we going to be interrupted, is the family going to have to take special precautions, are they going to be embarrassed, will they handle it properly, etc???   Sometimes it's hard and other times, I have been pleasantly surprised and embarrassed at myself for judging a situation before anything actually happens. 

Personally I am way more upset when a "regular" patron takes advantage and is annoying..and has no excuse.   And yes..kids with special needs have good days and bad days..like everyone else. To say they should just stay home...just seems totally wrong.

 

 

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I wonder how loud he really was, out of all the shows I've been to I've never seen anyone get kicked out. I'd like to hear from other members in the audience or the cast as to how much of a disruption he actually was. If he was that loud to begin with she could have taken him to the lobby to calm him down a bit. 

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This is a very conflicting subject for me.  On one hand I strongly believe in theatre being an inclusive art form, but then on the other hand I have a problem with being distracted while at a production that I have spent a ridiculous amount of money on.  Honestly, if I were the mother, I would not take my son to live theatre if I knew that he had a tendency to make any loud noises that may be distracting to the audience and cast.  I completely understand how difficult it is to raise a child with any sort of special needs, but I think some mothers take up the attitude of "It doesn't matter if my child makes any noises and is distracting to the audience and cast because my son has autism and if anyone says anything, I will post it all over the Internet."  It's an odd sense of entitlement that rubs me the wrong way.  They should go see a movie or wait for one of nights where the show is appropriate for those with special needs.  A Broadway show can create sensory overload and can sometimes cause them to freak out.  Live theatre can be stressful on the audience in a way and I'm not sure that, that is a friendly environment for a child with autism.  Anyways, I hope the theatre treated them with respect and understanding.

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It's a very hard situation. He shouldn't be denied the experience of going to the theatre, but then the 1000+ other people there have paid a lot of money and it can ruin their experience to have such a disruption whilst watching the show. My patience would run out if it was a constant distraction throughout the whole show.

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Statement from the theater: https://www.facebook.com/notes/broadway-in-chicago/statement-from-broadway-in-chicago/10155138327590729/

"Broadway In Chicago is deeply sorry for the circumstances that occurred on May 10th, 2017, in the Cadillac Palace Theatre which resulted in a family leaving the matinee performance of Aladdin.

Broadway In Chicago immediately contacted the affected family, facilitated a full refund and offered them the opportunity to return to the theatre to see Aladdin or another show at Broadway In Chicago, as our guests. We look forward to working with them to make their return visit a positive one. As with all patron concerns that arise at any Broadway In Chicago theatre, we will continue to review the matter to ensure that all staff are taking care of our customers in the most inclusive way. It is incredibly important to us that all of our guests enjoy their experience; they are our number one concern."

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slumdogdelaware said: "My question would be - were the cast members the ones that actually complained? Because if so, that means the kid was a legitimate disruption (or enough of a distraction for cast to complain), and whether he had autism or not wouldn't actually matter. Needs more context. 

 

"

http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Theater-Boots-7-Year-Old-With-Autism-For-421953423.html

 

This says it was the cast.

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But it is ok to let people take pictures rattle bags of chips talk on their cells phones snore and sing along?  This is a children' a show and I am sure that there are hundreds of screaming and crying children at evqery performance. SHAME on them!

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Daisy, that's the same article the op used. 

 

None of us were there,  so we really don't know how disruptive the boy was being and therefore, cannot pass any sort of judgement.  It could have been a real nuisance or barely anything. 

To say the rest of the theater was likely noisy is silly...I've been to plenty of family shows and there is seldom a difference in decorum. 

 

I have a family with a severely handicapped son who comes to every one of our musicals  (his siblings were both drama students of mine years ago).  Almost every show, you can occasionally hear random moans.  I've never had a complaint.  Heck, sometimes Adrian's noise is how i realize the family is there having missed seeing them come in. Maybe every 3 years, the young man becomes overly vocal and the parents bring him into the lobby, sometimes for a few minutes and, even more rarely, they leave for home.  Thats what respectful people do on both sides of the issue.

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Updated On: 5/12/17 at 06:07 AM
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BrodyFosse123 said: "With all due respect to the mother, she is more than aware how her child responds to things and behaves in public.  It is her negligence to have chosen to take her autistic child to a theatrical production where they would be sitting amongst hundreds of people, in a dark auditorium and with live music.  It not only is rude but quite ignorant to expect people to ignore the situation due to the child's handicap.  She is an idiot for taking her child.  Period.  

 

"

How can you possibly know what the mother knew? She claims she and the 7-year-old attended theater performances before without incident. I certainly applaud her attempt to integrate her son into the theatrical experience (and I think it is smart p.r. for the theater to refund her money.)

But I wasn't there, so I'm not going to call the mother names and pretend I can judge what she knew about her child. The original article says the cast on stage were disturbed, so that's quite a racket and must have disturbed patrons as well.

That being said, I'll be the Scrooge. Once it was clear the disruption couldn't be contained quickly, she should have left without having to be told. Theater is a form of mass art/entertainment that requires considerable concentration and an ability to sit quietly. People who can't meet those requirements: be they drunk, hyperactive, in the midst of a paranoid delusion, waiting for an important phone call, autistic, mad at their husband or otherwise incapable, they must leave.

Updated On: 5/12/17 at 07:48 AM
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ZellMorrowsPledge said: "When I saw School Of Rock in March there was an audience member in my row with special needs who kept moaning & groaning for most of Act 2. 

"

I moaned and groaned during School of Rock, too. 

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BrodyFosse123 said: "With all due respect to the mother, she is more than aware how her child responds to things and behaves in public.  It is her negligence to have chosen to take her autistic child to a theatrical production where they would be sitting amongst hundreds of people, in a dark auditorium and with live music.  It not only is rude but quite ignorant to expect people to ignore the situation due to the child's handicap.  She is an idiot for taking her child.  Period."

As a special education teacher myself, I agree with you 100%. These parents know who their children are and if it's appropriate. I think she was either in denial of her child's disability or keenly selfish and lacking awareness of how it would affect other people. If I were there (which I wouldn't be because Disney attracted an awful crowd) I would be beyond pissed. Like another poster said, there are special performances that allow for that expected behavior.

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GavestonPS said: "...Once it was clear the disruption couldn't be contained quickly, she should have left without having to be told. Theater is a form of mass art/entertainment that requires considerable concentration and an ability to sit quietly. People who can't meet those requirements: be they drunk, hyperactive, in the midst of a paranoid delusion, waiting for an important phone call, autistic, mad at their husband or otherwise incapable, they must leave."

Well said. I've always thought it incredibly rude when people bring any child into a public space (e.g., restaurant, movie theater, museum, etc.) where everyone has paid to be, and then let the child disrupt the experience for other patrons. The old "She's just a child, what do you want me to do?" trope is just an attempt to justify inconsiderate parental behavior. Similarly, the notion that "My child has a disability, so everyone else should just grin and bear it" is galling. The disability is irrelevant because any child could have a tantrum without warning and create the same situation. Regardless of age or disability, no one has a right to ruin an experience for a thousand other people who also paid good money to be there.

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I went to a community theater production of a show where an autistic person was literally screaming at the top of her lungs, so much so they literally had to pause a scene on stage while the woman and her handler had to leave the hall where the show was being staged.

Like others have said, if said special needs person can sit through the show and isn't hindering the actors on stage (yelling while a scene is going on), then by all means, take them to enjoy theater.

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evic said: "But it is ok to let people take pictures rattle bags of chips talk on their cells phones snore and sing along?  This is a children' a show and I am sure that there are hundreds of screaming and crying children at evqery performance. SHAME on them

"

These aren't appropriate things either and ushers do their best to stop people from using their phones. Just because there are morons who does this stuff doesn't mean it's ok to allow other disturbances. 

Also hundreds of crying and screaming children is a bit over dramatic and not true in my experiences. I've seen Lion King and Aladdin and the crowd was more behaved than some other shows I've been to. 

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What is the criteria for something being a "children's show?" I understand that Aladdin is a stage adaptation of a Disney cartoon, but it's a two and a half hour musical. Not exactly Sesame Street Live...
Maybe the demographic is different in Chicago, but night after night I see the crowds streaming out of the New Am, and there are definitely more adults without children than with.

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trpguyy said: "What is the criteria for something being a "children's show?" I understand that Aladdin is a stage adaptation of a Disney cartoon, but it's a two and a half hour musical. Not exactly Sesame Street Live...
Maybe the demographic is different in Chicago, but night after night I see the crowds streaming out of the New Am, and there are definitely more adults without children than with.
"

I thought the same thing. It irks me when people label something "a children's show" because the story was previously presented as an animated film. The Broadway production of The Lion King, for example, is very different from the animated movie (which was arguably aimed at children). The stage show's set design looks different, the orchestrations and vocal performances/arrangements are different, and the costumes are different - and all of these differences make the show look and feel more adult in nature. It doesn't look, feel, or sound like "a children's show". In fact, I'd venture to guess that most kids who see it ask their parents who the character that opens the show (Rafiki) is, as the performer neither looks or sounds like the character in the film.

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Updated On: 5/12/17 at 12:09 PM
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Agree completely with Gaveston.

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GavestonPS said: "She claims she and the 7-year-old attended theater performances before without incident."

I took that part to mean that they had never been asked to leave, not that he hadn't been disruptive. 

I have mixed feelings on this, too. Obviously I want theatre to be accessible to everyone, but one person's experience shouldn't outweigh the experience of everyone else in that theatre. I remember when this issue happened at King and I, and the actor spoke up about how he supported the child staying in the theatre, even though he apparently was shouting throughout the show. A lot of the internet commentary stood behind this, using the excuse that the theatre was full of rich patrons who were complaining that their precious show was being interrupted, and that the autistic boy should be able to experience the show regardless of his outbursts. I hate that argument, because you never know who's in that audience. Maybe there's a couple who have been saving up for years to see their first Broadway show and this is a once-in-a-lifetime splurge night. Maybe there's another child there with disabilities who has trouble hearing or focusing, and would do best with a totally silent audience to be able to concentrate. We don't know.

I have no idea what the solution is, other than regularly offering more fully accessible performances so that everyone can experience the art without fear of disrupting the audiences around them. But as much as I feel for this family (or any family dealing with the same situation), I strongly believe that that one child's experience doesn't get to trump the experience of the hundreds of other people in the theatre, and that children (or adults) who are prone to vocal outbursts really shouldn't attend on a non-special-performance night. It's not fair to everyone else there. 

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My parents starting taking me to theater/concert events at the age of 2. Even though most of the time I was behaved, engaged, and non-disruptive, as a younger child, there were times when I wasn't having it.

My parents made sure to always buy tickets on the aisle either in the back or immediately near an exit door, so at the first sign of trouble, I was out of there. 

I understand it's a different set of circumstances with unknown variables, but at the same time, I hope guardians would make these sorts of plans before heading to an event. 

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LYLS3637 said: "My parents made sure to always buy tickets on the aisle either in the back or immediately near an exit door, so at the first sign of trouble, I was out of there."

That's responsible parenting.

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