For Perth single mum, Liz Jay Bee, it was a rare night out with her kids. They’d been sick and cooped up during school holidays and they needed this.
"I took my children to the football because I wanted some family time." Image via Blog Me and my Craziness.
But when fellow spectators shamed her forcing her to leave her night out a beloved Eagles game turned to heartbreak.
Liz Jay Bee, a mum who writes about her life with her kids shared her distressing experience in an open letter to her fellow spectators – a letter that has now gone viral.
The young mum took her four-year-old daughter and six-year-old son to watch the Eagles' win over Richmond at Domain Stadium on Friday.
On Saturday she took to her blog, and to Facebook to tell her readers - and now Australia - just how tough it can be for a child with autism to to treated as any other child would on a regular night out.
“To the lady and her daughter sitting in seats 9 and 10 in section 142, row W at Domain Stadium at last nights Eagles vs Richmond game” she wrote.
"I'm the mum to a special needs boy; the very boy you sat next to last night. I took my children to the football because I wanted some family time,"
Ms Bee wrote that her son, Will, who is six has autism.
“He’s non verbal (but I’m pretty sure through the looks of disgust that your teenage daughter gave him, she figured that out at least) and has sensory issues.”
Ms Bee wrote that her son, Will, who is six has autism. Image via Facebook.
She justifies why she went out, saying it was her birthday and her daughter loves the Eagles. She says she took her son, who doesn’t understand the game quite as much his iPad in case he became unable to cope. She said that his IPad gave him when he needed to focus on something else.
"I didn't want to let my son feel left out because he deserves just as much as the next child to go to the football," she said.
But then, she said, her son slipped and spilled some lemonade on the mother next to him.
“He’s only just learning how to drink from a bottle, though he was using a straw last night. As he went to take a drink, the drink slipped and spilled a bit. I heard the bottom of the bottle hit the chair and turned round to see him wet from his drink and you, the mother of the two, with a bit of lemonade on your jumper.
"I apologised profusely, saying 'I'm so sorry, he's still learning to drink out of a bottle with a straw' and all you could do was mumble [under your breath but I still heard it] 'F--k sake, f--king hell'."
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She said that his sensory issues then went “batshit” as he had lemonade on his own sleeve and he accidently brushed past the teenage girl a few times who was now sitting next to the little boy after she had changed seats with her mother.
Ms Bee writes that the girl glared at her son when he accidentally touched her.
“She looked as though she didn’t want to touch him in case she ‘caught what my little boy has’.”
He deserves just as much as the next child to go to the football. Image via Facebook.
She goes on to write that at three quarter time it all became too much and they left.
“ I was so embarrassed by the behavior of you and your daughter and I felt so ashamed for wanting to take my son out anywhere that I figured we’d just left and leave that whole area for them to spread out.”
Ms Bee says that the mother and daughter’s actions made her question why she was taking her son out.
She writes “Because looks like this to a child who has NO CONTROL over anything they do, because of how their brain is programmed is heartbreaking. And especially when the mother of that child notices those looks, she becomes sad, embarrassed, heartbroken, angry and frustrated all in one go. All this, because even though their child isn’t ‘normal’ (god I hate using normal and special), they still want them to experience things that a kid their age experiences too.”
“Looks, stares and unnecessary gestures such as going out of your way to make sure a child doesn’t touch you because you think they’re going to give you what they’ve got is a special needs childs worst nightmare. They already feel judged enough (I know I do – from so many different aspects of my life) that they don’t need a complete strangers actions to make them feel even shittier than they already do especially if the child isn’t handling the situation well.”
"I'm not doing this for attention for my son, or even for me. I'm doing this because deep within me, I'd hope and wish that someone knew these people and showed them because it really hurt.
"And potentially to get awareness that even though he may not understand, kids like my son enjoy doing things out of the norm and they aren't physically different to the rest of us, that their brains are just differently wired."
"Isn't he entitled just as much as the next person to go out?" Image via Facebook.
Since her post went viral Ms Bee has has to write a follow up addressing some of the comments she faced.
Negative swipes such as questioning why she let her a little boy with autism child sit next to a stranger saying "I'd be pissed off too, if I had a kid spill shit on me at the football".
Another said “if he's getting up and down all night, then maybe leave him home"
And another "why should he be entitled just because he's autistic".
Ms Bee has told her readers that she paid for her tickets just as everyone else at the game did and seating configuration was not normally something parents had to justify.
"Isn't he entitled just as much as the next person to go out?"