Monday, December 12, 2005

Knott's Berry Funk

Well, it's true! My son and I took a trip to Las Angeles! It was a lot of fun. He was competing in the Footlocker West Cross Country Championships. He ran a little slow, but had a lot of fun!

Then, we drove around the big city. Wanted to see some of those famous boulevards! The first one I turned off on had to be Santa Monica Blvd! My son turned 18 last month, so I kidded him about being legally old enough to go into one of those nudy girl places to see a naked lady! I embarrassed him to tears!

I only saw one celebrety, and he was nearly past me when I finally realized I didn't know him, that he was Locke on Lost! Maybe I just watch too much tv!

We went to Knott's Berry Farm. They have some very exciting rollercoaster rides! I am ashamed to say they actually scared me! Now I have to try some more!

Well, I wanted to put this letter here for a couple of days before I mailed it. If I read it a few times, I might want to change it a little.

Knott’s Berry Farm
8039 Beach Blvd.
Buena Park, CA 90620

Attn: Guest Relations

To Whom it May Concern:

On Saturday, December 3, 2005, my son and I visited your theme park in Buena Park, California. We both thought the rides were very thrilling, and the spirit of the park was very exciting. Unfortunately, a perfect day was nearly spoiled.

I left my 18 year old son to wait for me outside a bathroom while I dried my shirt after riding the Big Foot ride. While I was doing so, someone decided that he was behaving in a way that made him a serious threat. When I came out, my son came rushing toward me, very alarmed. A security guard had been talking to him, and when the officer approached me, he said my son told him he was on medication, and that he needed to make sure that everything was ok. I told him my son has a disability, he nodded and once again asked if everything was ok. I felt confused and bewildered by his comments.

My son has autism. He is very high functioning, and is very capable of taking care of himself . He does have some very bizarre behaviors. He paces, flaps his hands and pulls his hair out. He has stereotypical autistic behaviors, and I have never had anyone accuse him of being dangerous. As far as the medication goes, he does take an antidepressant, as he told the security guard. It doesn’t affect his behavior, and certainly doesn‘t make him a threat to anyone else. If he had been schizophrenic, as was implied, the way the officer handled it would certainly have escalated any problems. As it was, it took a full half hour to calm my son down enough to stop his crying.

I suppose if that incident was the only problem that day, I wouldn’t be writing this letter. However, the steam train conductor, who passed us twice while making a head count, looked my son straight in the eye and said “I don’t know about you line jumpers! I counted people after I closed the gate, and there were just enough seats for that number. I hope there are enough seats for you.” There were, of course, just as she had counted! But no apology was forthcoming.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was when I was buying candy at one of your little stores. The woman helping us said “Don’t give him any candy, he has too much energy already!” He was pacing. When I told her she was the third person that day to volunteer a comment on my autistic son, she was apologetic, but, the damage was done.

I am not writing this letter to complain, but to bring to your attention a problem that you can very easily rectify for future guests. If you were to educate your workers on the various types of disabilities they might encounter, future guests could be spared the pain and humiliation my son suffered that night. My son’s autism is very stereotypical, and while he is very high functioning, people who are knowledgeable about the disability can pick it out easily. I know that security guards and police officers are trained to deal with a variety of situations, but the response to my son’s pacing was so excessive that even I was alarmed! What if I hadn’t been there? What would they have done to him? He wasn’t hurting anyone or anything!

I hope you will take this matter seriously. As it stands now, I will definitely not encourage people with behavioral disabilities like my sons to visit your park.

Thank You for Your Time,



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