Mum blasts city pub over autism 'discrimination'

A mother of autistic triplets has hit out at a Glasgow pub for what she describes as blatant discrimination.

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Tracy Steell has accused the pub of discrimination
Tracy Steell has accused the pub of discrimination

Tracy Steell took her three 19-year-old sons - Bobby, Stuart and Glen - to see Aladdin in panto at the King's Theatre and booked a table for five at The Griffin on Bath Street for a meal before the show.

She asked for a table in the dining area but when the family arrived at 6pm, Tracy, 46, says it was full and she was offered a table in the bar instead.

And she says that after explaining she needed a table in the dining area, a waitress told Tracy she should have warned them she was bringing 'someone like that', in reference to Bobby.

Tracey said: "I was stunned and very angry.

"Bobby is more obviously autistic than his brothers and I was so angry that the waitress would focus on him.

"It was humiliating and I think it was clearly discriminatory."

The family went elsewhere for food before the boys enjoyed the panto.

When she got home, Tracy posted a review on travel website Trip Advisor explaining her disappointment.

Robert Mullen, who describes himself as the bar's PR manager, posted a reply to Tracy's complaint.

In his reply, Mr Mullen wrote: "Whilst trying to rid myself of my ignorance about autism, I read this on the autism research website - 'a person with autism may find certain background sounds, which other people ignore or block out, unbearably loud or distracting.'

"It's The Griffin at 6pm on a Friday in December? Poor lad."

Tracy said: "I have never read a more condescending comment in my life.

"I don't need anyone to explain autism to me and I am capable of making my own decisions about where I take my kids."

When speaking to the Evening Times, Mr Mullen said that the waitress in question does not speak English as a first language and that she might have "fumbled her words."

He added: "We do not discriminate against anyone and in fact I'd say we do more to accommodate disabled people than any other pub.

"If we had been told about her sons' condition we could have accommodated them better."

The National Autistic Society (NAS) Scotland asks restaurants and other venues to do what they can to help people with autism enjoy the same opportunities most of us take for granted.

Robert MacBean, policy and campaigns officer for NAS Scotland, said: "As the challenges faced by people with autism every day is becoming more recognised, they are starting to be more welcomed into their communities.

"Sadly this isn't the case everywhere.

"We would encourage The Griffin to work with us to increase staff and management awareness of autism."

stef.lach@ heraldandtimes.co.uk

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