The Olde Salty restaurant in Carolina Beach, North Carolina has announced a new policy: No screaming children allowed.
One might think it would go without saying for almost any public place. And owner Brenda Armes says that the policy has attracted more customers than it’s repelled.
A few parents and others don’t like it, and even claim it’s illegal. You see, autistic children are more likely to scream and even go into meltdowns, so (by this line of reasoning) a policy banning screaming in effect discriminates against the disabled.
Yes, autistic children may scream, for example, due to a sensory overload that’s no fault of their own. And people should understand and not jump to conclusions about children necessarily just having temper tantrums, or say that autistic children shouldn’t be brought out in public.
Does that mean that any issue causing problems for others has to be someone’s fault before an establishment may take action? Suppose someone loudly coughs and sneezes many times in a restaurant. Of course it’s probably not her fault she’s sick. So the management has to stand by while she disturbs everyone and maybe infects some people?
Of course not. The original idea of combating discrimination is that people can’t treat others differently based on illegitimate criteria. For example, if a black person wants to eat at a restaurant, the management can’t bar him based on a dislike of black people, because someone’s being black does not harm the business or any individual.
However, screaming in a public place definitely disturbs others and harms the business, and management has every right to eject screamers. Even if they include some autistic children who don’t mean to scream and are suffering meltdowns, not pulling ordinary temper tantrums.
We need to help autistic children learn to minimize and finally eliminate their meltdowns, not demand that everyone else put up with disturbances.
What do you think?