3-Year-Old Autistic Girl Is Already Being Told She Won't Fit in When Gymnastics Class Rejects Her

With the number of kids diagnosed with autism on the rise, you'd think we'd be at a point where they're treated like children and not like an anomaly. But sadly, that doesn't seem to be the case: A Missouri mom is saying that a gymnastics class turned down her 3-year-old daughter because they couldn't "accept kids with special needs." Excuuuuse us?


Apparently, Bella was diagnosed with high-function autism, which means she's high on the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and able to communicate with others fairly well. Still, her therapist recommended gymnastic classes to help with her adjustment.

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So Bella's mom, Tia Crowe, called the local Creative Arts Academy to enroll her. As soon as she mentioned Bella was autistic, the office manager hopped on the phone and left a voice mail in which he said:

Our instructors are not trained for special needs classes. I don't think it would be fair to your little girl or, you know, to bring her into one that we don't have some training in that. So I'm sorry. Hopefully you can find some program for her. Thank you.

Crowe got understandably upset and said that the CAA didn't even wait to hear an explanation -- they just shut her down as soon as they heard the word "autism."

Bella's therapist said she was high-functioning, so chances are that she would have been able to handle a basic tumble class as well as any other kid could. I mean, she's 3. She's not training for the Olympics. But even if she were low-functioning, that shouldn't be a reason to exclude her.

If you don't have the infrastructure to help children with autism, get it. Train your instructors or hire an expert so that autistic kids can use your facility, too.

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If autistic kids are told "no" from the outset, what are you teaching them about their potential? What are you teaching them about their place in the world?

Luckily, this story has a (somewhat) happy ending -- Bella's saintly therapist offered to attend the classes with her to help out, and after hearing that, the CAA offered a trial class where they could gauge Bella's "fit" with the other kids in the class.

But that's not the happy ending. The happy ending is when Crowe flipped them the metaphorical bird and enrolled Bella in a school in a nearby city -- one that didn't care whether its students were autistic or not.


Image via iStock.com/Brian McEntire

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