The Local Germany (29 July 2015)
A mother from North Rhine-Westphalia has accused IKEA of debasement, discrimination and marginalization – after employees in the Dortmund store refused to let her autistic son into the children’s play area.
Bianca Amanzada wanted to place her son Alyschah-Paul in Småland – the chain’s free supervised children’s play area – while she visited the Dortmund IKEA, reports Die Glocke.
But when she told supervisors that the five-year-old suffers from autism, they refused to let him join the other children.
Autistic children are violent by nature, staff allegedly told her – adding that it would be too much of a risk to have Alyschah-Paul play with the other children, in case he injured them.
Amanzada took her case to the store manager, who also refused to let her son into the play area.
‘Leave your son in the car’
Amanzada’s 19-year-old daughter offered to stay in Småland with Alyschah-Paul and watch over him, but this was also refused.
According to Amanzada, an employee then advised: “you could always leave your son in the car.”
“It’s both incredibly rude and discriminating,” Amanzada told Die Glocke.
She said that she wasn’t even obliged to tell employees of her son’s autism –and only did so “for reasons of fairness.”
Alyschah-Paul’s autism has never been a problem in the past, she added – either in IKEA stores or other children’s play areas.
‘Safety is the number one priority’
IKEA Germany told The Local that staff never suggested Amanzada leave her son in the car.
All Småland staff are trained in children’s first aid, they said – but employees must decide in each individual case whether a child could be safely looked after in the play area.
“Ms Amanzada had already told employees that her son could be aggressive,” they said later in the statement.
After telling them of her son’s violent tendencies, Amanzada then reportedly asked whether her 19-year-old daughter could stay in the play area with him.
Yet this would have violated general security regulations, they explained.
IKEA apologized for any feelings of discrimination that has arisen from the incident –but added that the safety of children was the number one priority for Småland staff.