Irish theme park apologises over treatment of group of autistic children|
DROGHEDA, Ireland: Management at one of Ireland's largest theme parks has publicly apologised for the way a group of children with special needs was treated.
The Funtasia Waterpark attracts thousands of visitors a year, and on August 9, a complaint about its treatment of the autistic children attracted thousands of hits on Facebook.
The complaint was posted by Aisling Byrne, who was with the group of mildly autistic children and teenagers. She said that, on arrival at the Drogheda-based park, the group showed staff their autism cards - which most parks acknowledge by allowing early access. In this case, she said the staff member "looked blankly and said they did't do discounts. We asked if the children could be brought in ahead of the queue as children with autism find waiting hard - again the staff member hadn't a clue and said: 'I don't know, I don't think so'."
The group spoke with a manager who "was very dismissive and said he couldn't help us."
Byrne said the group was also verbally abused by a man in the queue. "He was shouting, screaming and using derogatory comments about our special needs children ... not one staff member came to our assistance when they all could clearly see what was happening."
Her complaint on Facebook received more than 8,000 "likes" yesterday.
Funtasia said on August 9 that it was "amazed at the number of comments." The firm added: "We fully accept that people are entitled to voice concerns and opinions, but we have seen at first-hand the dangers that social media can do to a business and its reputation."
The company apologised on Facebook and its general manager spoke with Byrne. He said: "Business in this climate is tough and we hope the negative comments do not have a material negative impact on our business. We are determined to react in a positive way and implement the necessary changes to ensure this type of incident doesn't happen again."
(Source: Irish Independent, August 10, 2012)