Mom says disabled son was moved to back of theater during ‘prom’

The mother of a 15-year-old non-verbal boy with severe developmental disabilities is speaking out after what she says was a ‘traumatic’ experience at a matinee musical.

Erica Blit took her son, Brandon, and daughter, Skylar, 10, to a performance of the musical “The Prom.”

The family was seated near the stage because Brandon “loves being front and center of the action,” Blit wrote in a Facebook post. She noted that she chose a show that was “optimistic, lively and appropriate” for her children.

During the performance, Blit said Brandon started making “happy noises.” She added that he “was NOT disruptive, but clapped a little differently than the others”.

“A pit started in my stomach when I saw the elderly woman across the aisle staring at us, and I thought to myself that it was a mistake to bring her, should I bring her out,” Blit wrote.

During intermission, Blit said she was approached by a general manager at the White Plains Performing Arts Center in New York who explained that patrons were “complaining” about Brandon and that they should move to the back of the hall. auditorium. At this point, she said, Brandon’s sister started crying.

Blit said TODAY Parents than Brandon, who has a genetic condition called MED13L syndromewears a bib.

“If you saw him, you would know right away that he’s not your typical kid,” she said.

Blit said she didn’t want to cause a scene, so she agreed to move to the back, but suggested the general manager start giving sensory performances. TDFa nonprofit performing arts organization, puts on autism-friendly Broadway shows, including “The Lion King” and “Wicked.”

Blit said the general manager was unapologetic and said the theater would “look into it.” Blit was not reimbursed for his tickets.

The next day, Blit spoke on the phone with John Ioris, president of the White Plains Performing Arts Center. She recounted their conversation in her Facebook post.

“I truly believed that once he heard the story of what happened, he would try to do the right thing in the future,” Blit wrote. “I couldn’t have been more wrong.”

“He asked me what I wanted to get out of this call and I told him that I had hoped for a sincere apology and that they do better in the future and/or perform autism or sensory performance,” explained Blit. “He said it wouldn’t happen, it wasn’t his audience.”

According to Blit, Ioris told him that viewers with disabilities “usually go with a moderator.” When Blit asked ‘What is a moderator?’ she said he replied, “it’s a carer who is supposed to control the child”.

Blit told TODAY the family will take legal action.

“What I was hoping for was him to say, we’re going to refund the ticket price. We want to do better in the future. We want to do sensory performances,” Blit said. to all.”

In her Facebook post, she wrote, “Isn’t it ironic that a theater putting on a performance encouraging someone to come out of the closet is trying to pressure us into doing one.”

Ioris said TODAY Parents in an interview that he has two children with special needs in his family, so he is not “unknown or indifferent to the situation”.

“We’ve had numerous complaints (about Brandon’s noises) – over a dozen people asking for their money back,” he said. “To boot, there was a critic in the theater that day.”

Ioris said the theater critic wrote that “a child’s moans” “afflicted” the performance.

Ioris said he was supportive of his staff and how they handled the situation. He said he was glad they waited until intermission to speak with Blit privately. As for the sensory performance suggestion, Ioris said, “It’s not something I’m against in any way, I just need to find some expertise.”

“It was a tough situation when people were screaming at the box office because they weren’t enjoying their day,” he said. “I still don’t know why Mrs. Blit didn’t pull the boy out of the theatre, calm him down and bring him back again.”

“Have we had children and adults with special needs who have created disruption? Yes, we did,” he continued. “But either way, the moderator – for lack of a better word – takes them outside and then brings them back.”

Blit said Brandon just enjoyed the singing and dancing and didn’t create a disturbance.

“Brandon loves musicals,” she told TODAY. “Those were his happy noises. If he was upset, I would have eliminated him in the blink of an eye.

Related video:

Courtesy of Erica Blit

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