Disney World Addresses Autism Bullying Incident

Last week, we reported about an incident involving blogger Amanda Broadfoot while she was on vacation with her family at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios. While eating at a restaurant on New Year’s Eve, Broadfoot’s 4-year-old son with autism was harassed and bullied by a group of teens, causing the youngster to become visibly upset and repeatedly hit his head. The situation escalated, but a manager eventually claimed there was nothing else that could be done to help the family.

When circumstances of the event began to circulate through Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere, families of special needs children became outraged at both the incident itself and Disney World’s response in the aftermath.

Earlier this week, on her blog, Broadfoot reported that a Disney World representative finally followed up with her and clarified the correct procedures in dealing with these types of incidents. The Disney rep or "cast member" as they are called, apologized to her and acknowledged that proper protocol was in fact not followed during her ordeal. She also assured Broadfoot that steps would be taken in the future to ensure all Disney cast members are reinforced with existing policies on how to handle belligerent and harassing guests.

The Disney representative invited Broadfoot and her family back to Disney World with complimentary tickets, and she is now completely satisfied with how the matter was resolved.

While incidents like these are rare in family-friendly environments such as Disney World, they are a great reminder that children with autism are frequently susceptible to bullying, regardless of where that may be. And as parents, it is our job to continue fighting and advocating on their behalf so these situations become less and less frequent in the future.

As unfortunate as this was for Broadfoot and her family, it does have a silver lining. It will give Disney World an opportunity to review its policies with staff on how to deal with unruly guests, as well as better equip them to further protect visitors in the future, including those with autism and other special needs.

3 Responses to Disney World Addresses Autism Bullying Incident

  1. Warren Crandall says:

    At a restaurant huh? I would have taken note, if the teen were seated at a table and if so, walked over and dumped their food all over their laps.
    Is that the best answer? Considering that I have a child with autism, probably not. But in the heat of the moment, that’s exactly what I would have done.

  2. crystal caluori says:

    I feel that the parents of children with autisim should be permitted to treat others who are ignorant or disrespectful in the same manner without any repercussions. I feel the early twenty somethings, teens, and children of this time are rude, crass, ignorant, lack morals, and behave as if they are entitled to what ever they want without work or justification. I remember as a child misbehaving at a grocery store and the lady in the aisle, who I do not know, smacking my bumm. Mom finds out that another mother had to reprimand me and I get another bumm whack for disrupting her day. I say give it back to the offenders just as much as they dished out or worse. At this point its the only way society stands a chance of changing outcomes of these nasty adolencents. I am so sorry your child had to go through this. I truly hope your next visit is a magical one and without incident. God Bless

  3. dennis says:

    im planning a trip to disneyland for my 16 yr old autistic son who wants to go so bad. He went once before , when he was 4, he had a meltdown of sorts and a tantrum, a grown man walked up to us while we were dealing with it and said and i quote ” I thought this was the happiest place on earth, i wanted to smack him in the mouth and knock him out, but as we all know id go to jail.Dumping the food on those morons lap, i get it, unfortunately these bullies have the law on their side as far as that goes. Lets hope a truck hits them, God works in mysterious ways !! Love your KId !!

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