Our Layla is a sweet, affectionate 2 year old. She is exceptionally bright for her age. She also happens to have Autism Spectrum Disorder, Global Developmental Delay, and Hypotonia. We wouldn't change a thing if we could, because then she wouldn't be our Layla.
On December 14-15, while on a trip to Hershey, PA with our two daughters, Layla was subjected to horrible discrimination-through-ignorance. Hypotonia is low tone, and causes her to be exceptionally clumsy. Autism provides our baby many daily struggles, with sensory processing issues being at the forefront of these issues.
When in public, we have to keep Layla in a stroller, or else she is completely unable to handle any new/crowded/loud/bright/overly stimulating situations. She also benefits from the stroller for safety reasons related to her Hypotonia. This is not uncommon, and special needs strollers are even made for children as old as 8-9-10-and up.
During our trip, even with a copy of Layla's diagnosis and an ADA slip for the stroller, Layla was repeatedly turned away from ADA Accessible areas in both Chocolate World and Hershey Park, both of which are places geared towards families and children. She was even turned away from a visit with Santa Claus. Our 4 year old, Mary, was convinced that Santa didn't like her little sister.
After speaking with upper-management at both locations on the phone, we realized that the primary issue was a total lack of education provided to employees in both areas, despite the fact that they were specifically working ADA Accessible areas. It was due to this lack of education that we were publically humiliated, and left heartbroken. One employee even accused us of lying. The Americans with Disabilities Act is geared towards protecting disabled people - but how can it possibly be enforced and protected if people are handed the keys to a company with absolutely no training?
We are currently petitioning Washington, with the Support of our local State representative, as well as the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the Autism Society of America, to introduce, and pass, "Layla's Law", or whatever name they choose to give it, which will require specific training to employees who will regularly come into contact with people like my baby girl, who may look just like everyone else on the outside, but struggle with "invisible disabilities."