When you have a child on the autism spectrum life is that bit harder, no matter how much you dress it up it’s not easy! We as a family have been judged and judged again, Little man has often been left to feel his not “Normal” that he doesn’t deserve the experiences that other children have, he feels this because at the tender age of 11 his been discriminated against more times than I care to remember!
2009/2010 my son missed out on nearly every single school trip that his then mainstream school embanked on. Why? Well, he was either conveniently excluded on them days, not given letters, or just remained in school in the hope I’d never hear about it! Disgusting I know.
It was the most stressful time of mine and my son’s life, we had no choice but to take the discrimination route and just as the Tribunal date neared we settled the case happy that the school had finally given up the lie! I remember my son throwing his whole self into brick walls and scratching his arms till they bleed when the head teacher called late in the evening to inform me my son was excluded the following day and would therefore miss the one trip he had so looked forward to for months! My child was labelled a liability and a health and safety risk.
Thank goodness for charities like Merlin’s magic wand, the charity that creates magic for disadvantaged children, especially those with a disability and young carers like my daughter.
He missed all his school trips but at least come the summer holidays we would have our trip to Chessington World of Adventures to look forward to! The Merlin’s entertainment group really were creating magic for children like mine.
Little man didn’t feel so different as he raced around one of Merlin’s attractions, smiling from ear to ear.
As a parent of a child who benefits from such an awesome charity I did my bit to donate and even considered over coming my fear of heights by embarking on a sponsored skydive next year to raise some funds in the name of this awesome charity & the NAS.
Lately I’ve been running some competitions here on the blog to win tickets to a number of Merlin’s attractions, It’s basiclly a sponsored competition isn’t it! However unlike many other companies and brands do, Merlin’s didn’t offer any compensation to the blogger, after all it’s free advertising to the brand and many bloggers spend time writing and checking each entry before drawing the winner. Many of the other bloggers I know refused to do this, they just don’t have the time to run a competition and the fact their isn’t really a thank you for doing so added to this (after all this wouldn’t happen in newspaper or magazine).
Nonetheless, I didn’t vacillate when it came to such competitions and was happy to help, after all look how Merlin’s have helped my child and millions more like him on the autism spectrum. This was me giving them something back alongside my readers! So, why not!
Yesterday I visited my Facebook page (A boy with Asperger’s) only to discover something that hurt and angered me!
This is what I read…
Dear Merlin’s Magic Wand Applicants,
For those of you wishing to take advantage of our complimentary tickets for 2012, there has been a change in the way that Merlin’s Magic Wand will manage applications in 2012, for those families whose children are on the Autistic Spectrum or who have any Autistic related disability.
This year (2011) Magic Wand handled over 5000 applications, nearly 50% of these were from families with children with ASD.
Our Charity has very limited resources and funds and unfortunately we are no longer in a position to be able to manage these applications as efficiently as we wish. Therefore we have had to put in the following process in order for us to continue to work with families of Autistic children.
Applications from individual families will no longer be accepted. You will need to contact your local National Autistic Society Branch (NAS) in order for them to apply for tickets on your behalf. If you are not a member of your local NAS, you will need to contact any other organisation that you are a member of (incl Special Needs School) that specifically handles children on the Autistic Spectrum. They will be able to submit an application on behalf of all their members.
The NAS are aware of this new procedure and the regional offices will be asked to contact the families on their books to see if they wish to take advantage of our attractions complimentary tickets.
We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause, however, this change needs to be made so that we can help as many children as possible and for us to continue our promise of giving children magical experiences.
Hilary Birkinshaw Charity Manager
Nicky Elliott Applications Manager
The Merlin Magic Wand Charity
3 MarketClose/Poole/Dorset/UK/BH15 1NQ
Fax: +44 (0)1202 667867
This was posted on the wall by one of the admins I have appointed on the page.
I read this three times and was utterly disappointed to learn that basically Merlin’s our heroes were kicking us in the teeth just like so many have and will continue to when you’re a family that consist of a child with autism.
From reading this a number of times I am in no doubt that this is yet another act of discrimination against our children! How can it be interpreted any other way when it quite clearly reads,
“This year (2011) Magic Wand handled over 5000 applications, nearly 50% of these were from families with children with ASD.”
Before going on to state that they will no longer accept applications from families of children with ASD directly and this must now be done via NAS or through application from a special school!
As mentioned I fought a discrimination case and we come out the other side smiling, I’ve helped a number of families who also have children with autism who feel they are being discriminated against.
It’s even harder when a group of children are being singled out and treated differently than children with other types of disability especially when it is being done by a children’s charity!
Above Little man enjoying a trip to Chessington world of Adventures thanks to Merlin’s Magic Wand in 2010
Here is Merlin’s promise which I’ve taken from the Merlin’s Magic Wand Website
Magical and memorable experiences
Unfortunately, many children, through circumstances which are not of their own making, are not in a position to be able to experience many of the things that most children take for granted, including trips to theme parks and attractions.
This may be through difficulties in the home, or maybe because they have to care for a sick parent or relative. Sadly, sometimes children suffer abuse or have serious health problems which prevent them from having a normal life.
We hope that by making available magical and memorable experiences, at one of Merlin Group’s many and varied attractions, Merlin’s Magic Wand Children’s Charity can bring some pleasure and improvement to the lives of some of those children.
I do wonder if Merlin’s are fully aware of the laws surrounding disability discrimination. Surly the big guys at Merlin’s run this decision past it’s legal team?
Here’s something they should have read…
Service providers are not allowed to discriminate unlawfully when providing goods or services to people. Discrimination when providing services means:
- refusing to provide a service, providing a lower standard of service, offering a service on different terms than you would to other people.
So, yet again, because you can’t see autism it makes our children less worthy of a smile?
Has Merlin’s ever considered the fact the reason the applications sent from families of children on the autism spectrum is so high is because there are a massive number of children with autism that actually benefit from this type of help? Autism is more common now than ever yet the misunderstanding and judgemental crap is still smacking them in the face with crap such as this!
Merlin’s what were you thinking?
From what I understand Merlin’s Magic Wand is a charity for disadvantaged children and that’s not only those with disabilities! Example… A single Parent can apply for help from Merlin’s simply stating how disadvantaged their children are simply because she is so broke, Merlin’s will then make the decision whether to issue the tickets or not!
The point I’m making is, our children should be allowed to enjoy the things that children are meant to enjoy without having to fight tooth and nail to do so.
The fact that Merlin’s are stating it is only the families of children with autism who need to take this new route of action is discriminating and god dam flagitious. Our children didn’t ask to be born with autism and we as parents spend much time and energy trying to install self-confidence into our child with autism or aspergers syndrome. I tell my son he is no different from other children, he just has some extra special ways, yet his not silly he knows that the world is a harder place to live in when you have a “Label” such as his! Its imperative that children on the autism spectrum don’t get left on the sideline, but receive the same opportunities as others their age.
Not every family of a child on the spectrum are members of the NAS and sadly this may shock you Merlin’s but do you know how hard it is to get your child into a special school? Your changes will not affect my application as my son goes to a special school but only after one hell of a battle, one that almost killed me! Now your asking parents of children like mine who haven’t been as fortunate as me to win the battle with the education system, to battle your application process. Yes, sadly I find this barbaric and have trouble understanding how you think your actions are even justifiable?
Merlin’s are not saying this to the parent of a child in a wheel chair, just to the parent of a child with autism… Why? Because you can’t see autism just from looking at the child, there is no physical disability so our children are sadly pushed aside.
I ask would Merlin’s state this about a child’s race or religion? I don’t think so!
They have more and less stated that they hope by taking such action the application number will fall and they can help more worthy children to have fun.
Will, I be sharing this with my 11-year-old son? No, I don’t want him to feel rejected not by a charity that he is thankful to, not to one that he trust, I wont do that.
Since making the discovery I have visited the Merlin’s magic wand Facebook page which has a wall full of comments from parents, advocates and adults on the spectrum. Sadly I have not read any statement given from Merlin’s. I await such a statement, I would of course like to hear why? and hear it from them!
I didn’t receive the email about the changes, I don’t know why, maybe I will in the next few days, they obviously have a number of parents to upset given they have stated that half its applicants are families of children with autism.
I will finish the current competition I have running solely because I have opened it and it wouldn’t be fair on those who have entered to suddenly remove it, however, I won’t be running another competition on their behalf simply because I’m not just a mother who writes a blog I’m a mother to a child on the autism spectrum who writes a blog and it would seem that right now Merlin’s couldn’t give a flying f*** about that!
So, there you have it, Merlin’s Magic wand are bringing smiles to the faces of children all over the world, that is unless they have autism!
Please leave a comment and share your views, especially if your child or loved one will be affected by the changes. Like I always say, in order to raise a subject and get heard we need to spread the word, so lets do it!
- Autism Advantage? NO! Conor Advantage? YES! (autisminnb.blogspot.com)
- Rise in autism ‘may be linked to clever parents’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- Uncovering the mystery of the rise and rise of autism (mirror.co.uk)