Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Constant Battle

**A non-stamping related post**

My heart is pounding and I can feel my blood pressure climbing through the roof.  I know I've posted about issues with autism and dealing with people who just don't get it but this honestly has ticked me off to a new record high.

I won't go into the entire background history of Linz and Zach's schooling and their internships provided by the school system.  Suffice it to say that they have been very well taken care of as far as having great teachers and assistants who have worked with them and helped them with skills and training for the "real world".  Linz interned at 4 different libraries before settling at one of our local public libraries where she now volunteers five days a week shelving books and helping out.  We have still been unable to find anyone willing to hire her.  Go figure.  She's far more organized and much more meticulous with paperwork and general office work than many "experienced" adults I've met.

Zach graduated from high school in 2010.  For those of you not familiar with special education, students with special needs can stay in school until they turn 22.  After graduation they return for more "life skills" classes and transition activities and hopefully internships with local businesses to help them find employment.
Zach worked two internships last year.  The first at the offices of the Amputee Coalition of America and the other at the Community Thrift Store.  At the ACA he stuffed envelopes and helped with general office tasks.  He was meticulous.  They were SO impressed.  Alas...no money to hire extra staff.
At Community Thrift Store he would help sort donations, collect hangers and sort them and help organize the book donations.  He rocked it.

So...when this school year began we found out that he was going to be doing an internship at our local Red Lobster restaurant.  We (along with his teacher) were very excited because in the past some of the students from the program were eventually hired at local restaurants and they were so successful.
Now....Zach is pretty non verbal so its not like he can come home and tell me all about his day....who said what....who was nice....who was a jerk etc.  It's absolutely TERRIFYING not knowing how people are treating my child.  Seriously...like "cold sweat" scary.  Most days when I ask, "How was your day, Zach?" he will respond with "Was it good?".  I know.  Makes no sense. Right?  It is what it is.
So I had signed the paperwork giving permission for him to start at Red Lobster.  There would be an instructional assistant accompanying him every time he went etc.  Well....a couple of weeks ago he started his "every other day" internship routine.  I would ask, "Did you go to internship today?" and he would usually say, "Yes.  Napkins and knife and forks."  Um...okay.

Now since I work in the school system I know most of the teachers and assistants at the other schools.  I see some of them regularly.  So today I happened to see an assistant who comes with 2 special ed students to intern at my school.  I knew that she had gone with Zach before and had told me how much she just "loves him".  I went over to her this morning and said, "Hello" and I told her that Zach came home yesterday and mentioned something about Community Thrift Store.  I told her I thought that was odd since his new internship is at Red Lobster.  She got a strange look on her face and said, "Did you hear what happened last week?".  Ok....my heart stopped.  I said, "Um.....nope".  She said, "The bus took them to internship (Zach and another sweet girl in his class) and they turned the bus away.  They wouldn't let them stay".  (She thought that this happened at Community Thrift but it turns out that it was at Red Lobster)
Ok...WHAT?

Fast forward to tonight when I talked with his teacher who told me what had happened.  (I'm FUMING!!!)
Apparently at Red Lobster he had been given the task of wrapping silverware and preparing it for customers.  Silverware wrapped in paper napkins for lunch time and cloth wrapped silverware for dinner time.  The assistant from school had been there with him the whole time/every time.  Last week, when their bus showed up at Red Lobster, the manager opened the front door and stood in the doorway, blocking the entrance and said, "You don't need to come in.  We don't need you here."  The assistant asked her what she was talking about.  The manager repeated herself and said, "We don't need THEM here.  I guess if you need to wait the two hours for your bus to come back and get you they can sit in the lobby."
(I'm nauseous as I even type that!)
So....they called transportation and the bus came back and took them back to school.  The teacher said that the internship coordinator found out that Red Lobster said that the silverware wrapped in cloth napkins was done perfectly but the ones in the paper napkins had the silverware peeking out of the top of the bundles and they needed to be "completely encased".  The assistant who had been with them since their first trip said they were NEVER told that.  Even so....why wouldn't they show them the correct way and let them continue???  Seriously???

All I want is a place for my kids to be happy and productive.  A place to feel they belong and are appreciated for the wonderful human beings they are.  They are BOTH so very sweet and happy and such hard workers.  I don't know about you but I've come in contact with some pretty useless, unhappy people in my shopping travels....eating out excursions etc.  Why won't anyone give them a chance???  I know God has a plan.  I KNOW IT.  I just wish He would reveal it.  I'm sitting here tonight feeling tired...bone tired.  I know there are millions of people who have way worse problems to deal with than ours.  I do.  I get it.  I'm not asking for anything for ME.  I want this for THEM.

For those of you who know my husband, you know how calm and low key he is.  He doesn't get mad often.  In fact, I'd really have to think hard to recall when he was mad last.  Well....guess what?  He's TICKED OFF tonight!!!  He's going to write a letter to the Red Lobster corporate offices.  Lord help the rude and hateful manager from the Manassas, VA Red Lobster.  They haven't heard the last from us.
We will NEVER, EVER set foot there again.  
Working in special education I keep one thing in the front of my head at all times.  No matter how hard a child is to deal with....no matter how frustrating they can be....no matter what....we ALL need to remember one thing....
They are ALL someone's child.  They are ALL someones prized possession.  We are entrusted with them for a few hours each day.  No matter how "hard" it may seem to deal with them...they are ALL someone's child.  For those people like the manager at Red Lobster....I pray God doesn't give you a child with special needs.  You obviously would have NO CLUE what to do with that precious gift. 
Thanks for letting me pour it all out here.  I appreciate it more than you know.
Blessings,
Michelle

14 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry for you and your family. I'm honestly sorry for the ignorant soul at Red Lobster who clearly doesn't understand a thing about how to treat people. I hope you are able to have contact with the powers that be because this is so sickening! Best of luck to all of you

    ReplyDelete
  2. Food Service jobs are BAD. I'm sure there are some good managers out there but there are far more jerky ignorant ones. Stay away from food service jobs if possible.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Michelle, my heart breaks for your family. This is just NOT right. Would you be willing to post which Red Lobster this pertains to. I'm sure many would be willing to write to corporate too regarding this incident. It is one restaurant we will no longer go to either. Corporate needs to know how these children were treated and the improper training they were given.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Michelle, was just on the Red Lobster site. Corporate will NOT allow a complaint/comment/etc to be sent to them without knowing which restaurant it involves. I hope that you will let us know. I'm sure many would write.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Manassas VA Red Lobster
    7505 Broken Branch Lane
    Manassas, VA 20109

    ReplyDelete
  6. Michelle, i'm truly sad to hear about this .. God does indeed have a plan : For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29 11. Keep the faith ..and we will keep all of you in our prayers. gina

    ReplyDelete
  7. I believe we should all write letters to either the manager at that branch or corporate in support of your son. Having a special needs child myself, I feel your anguish. This would not only show them we support your family but all special needs individuals.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am so sorry your son has been put through this. I do hope things are made right. In this day and age, how something like this can be allowed to happen is disgraceful! That person needs to be fired-descrimination-in any form should not be tolerated. Hugs to you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  9. do you have the managers name? This conduct is very unprofessional and this person should not be in management.Special needs or not, there must be company policy on employee termination. Nevermind the issue of proper training which is also the managers responsibility.

    ReplyDelete
  10. My blessings to you and your family. I have worked with special needs kids since I was a senior in high school (1967). I retired last year after working for 25 years in the same school with preschool children with many varying special needs and many with autism. What you are describing is happening to you adult children is one of the reasons I got involved so many years ago. Do your children have an advocate who will be there for them and make sure that they are treated fairly? I know they have para educators with them but an advocate may be more prepared to do deal with these types of inequities. I also would be kind of upset with the school for not informing me about the situation when it happened in the first place. It jus doesn't seem right that you thought your children were one place and then they were somewhere else. As far as Red Lobster, I never liked eating there and won't ever eat there again. I hope that you are able to work this out. Please keep us informed. I would love to write a letter to cooperate and let them know my feelings about this situation.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Michelle,
    Please know that you have a strong band of people who do support you and the children. I am impressed and encouraged that you have gone public with this and continue to fight for what is right! Society is a cruel place, but this goes beyond cruel! I did write on Red Lobsters main Facebook page and I would encourage you to contact 7 on Your Side to farther promote what kind of senseless and demeaning acts this manager has bestowed upon your children and family. Without knowing, this manager probably just created years of tumultuous back sets for these children, but I can see that having you as their parent and mentor will help equal out the damage this person has caused. Truly praying for a resolution for you and your family! Angie McMillion

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am so sorry your family has been treated like this. Hugs & prayers!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I also posted on the FB page and on my personal page to help spread the word about what has happened. There is NO excuse for this happening.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Honey, You are so right and everyone is someone's child and even if you do not understand a medical condition then you read up on it. I have lived in a world all my life with (different) child and this has made me a better person. Keep up the good work and you are a fantastic MOM. Stephanie

    ReplyDelete