'Swimming pool is discriminating against my autistic son'|
SWANSEA, Wales: A Swansea dad claims his autistic son is being discriminated against by staff at Wales National Pool in Swansea.
City designer Andrew Shipley says he is angry after they both received a verbal warning for their behaviour at the Sketty Lane attraction. He has vowed to keep taking his 12-year-old son, Billy, there, despite the fall-out and the threat of a ban.
Pool officials say they were forced to react they way they did because of issues over supervision and behaviour.
Staff also insist that the two are still welcome as long as they abide by the regulations.
"I supervise him at all times," said Mr Shipley, of Glanmor Road, Sketty. "I know a large number of autistic children will not go there because barruers are constantly put in their way. I am incredibly frustrated by the whole situation, but refuse to give in and stay away like the others."
The father and son use one of the three pub ic lanes available on their weekend sessions, with Billy enjoying splashing around.
"I always accompany him and ensure that any boisterous behaviour is contained and we are no risk to others," said Mr Shipley.
"It's my view that it is the Wales National Pool and it should be there for the use of everyone."
Mr Shipley said his offer to go into the other training lanes when they were free was turned down.
"We are constantly told off by staff," he said. "I think it is an appalling display of discrimination."
Mr Shipley admitted kissing his temper over what he called stupid rules and regulations, but insisted that he had not sworn.
Pool manager Jane Draper said they had a proud record of welcoming and providing facilities for people of all swimming abilities, including those with autism. "Our staff have specialist training, including disabliity trainingnd take great care to meet the needs of all our customers," she said.
Mrs Draper said a number of child protection and health and saftey issues had been raised with Mr Shipley over his supervision of his son.
"He has repeatedly ignored our concerns and has become abusive towards staff," she said. "He also ignored requests not to take photographs in the pool area. This is against WNP's policy foer the protection of children and vulnerable adults. Our overriding concern is to ensure the safety of all our visitors and staff, including Mr Shipley's son."
(Source: South Wales Evening Post, May 18, 2007)