This was originally published on Liberal America on March 24, 2016.
Three-year-old Bella in Kansas City, Missouri was turned away from gymnasticsclasses because she is diagnosed with autism. The phones at the Creative Arts Academy in Kansas City have been ringing off the hook since the mother complained about the situation online.
She said the Academy was discriminating against her daughter. The owner just thinks it’s a “misunderstanding.” Bella’s therapist recommended that the child take some tumbling classes or dance classes to help with her socialization skills..
When Bella’s mother mentioned the autism diagnosis, this was the response from the studio:
“Our instructors are not trained for special needs classes. I don’t think it would be fair to your little girl or you know to bring her into one that we don’t have some training in that. So I’m sorry. Hopefully you can find some program for her. Thank you.”
Bella’s therapist even called the academy and offered to come to the class to help out. The therapist also tried to explain that Bella is very high functioning.
The academy offered the child a trial class only because the therapist had to tell them about autism. The mother decided to enroll Bella in a class at a different academy that already had some autistic children enrolled.
Children with disabilities deserve to be able to do things that other kids do. Also, what many people don’t realize about autism is that the condition is found on a spectrum. Much like other mental health conditions, there are varying degrees of presentation. Little Bella has been spending 40 hours a week working with her therapist to help deal with the autism.
Bella is not the only one experiencing this kind of discrimination. A boy in California, Anthony, is being denied his sacrament. He has been in the classes for years preparing for his First Communion. But, the church keeps asking too much of him. He has been practising the ‘Eucharist,’ the holy wafer. Now, they’re telling him he doesn’t grab enough of it. He is very picky about what he eats; it’s a part of his condition. Hopefully, he will be able to take his First Communion at his parish in May.
The discrimination of autistic children needs to STOP. Now!