Security Guard Tells Woman to Put Autistic Brother on a Leash

Say What!? 18

leashHow's this for a story that will make you want to shake someone? A woman says she was grocery shopping with her 26-year-old autistic brother when a security guard told her she needed to put her brother "on a leash" because he'd been snacking from the hot food bar.

On a leash, huh? How about that security guard get down on all fours and be forced to drink water from a bowl for his bad behavior?

After all, if we're going to treat human beings like dogs, we might as well use this punishment for the ones who really screw up. And we could add the lady who hogs the whole aisle with her cart, that drunk guy buying his 40 who leers at you for daring to have boobs ... oh, and hey, that jerk who always manages to run his cart into the back of your feet.

Oh, but no one would say that about those jerks, would they? It's the backward attitude too many have about the differently-abled that prompted this one.

The incident at a Milwaukee Whole Foods store involving a guard employed by a private security firm has incensed the autism community, upsetting families who have found themselves in shoes similar to Emily Goldman's all too often. Goldman says she tried to apologize and explain that her brother Michael is autistic and immediately offered to pay for the food he'd eaten. But she says the guard wasn't having it:

They told me he needed to get out of the store and not come back unless he was on a leash.

Considering autism occurs in 1 in 88 kids these days, it's not like she was talking about some obscure disease that sounded like a bad excuse for bad behavior. Here we have a man who has a disability who could really use some human compassion! But in the same society where people still use the word "retard" as an insult, a security guard decided an autistic man needs a leash.

Oh, America. We can do better!

Whole Foods, for its part, has come out to say the guard was wrong and is making staff go through training on how to better handle these sort of situations. But until people as a whole stop treating the handicapped like they're animals, this is going to just keep happening.

How do you think this conversation SHOULD have gone down?


Image via davefayram/Flickr

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Maevelyn Maevelyn

I don't think he needs to be put on a leash but it's not okay for him to help himself to the hot food bar. Let's be honest, if he burned himself,choked on an olive or something Whole Foods couldn't use the "but he's autistic" defense. I hope they talked to her about controlling him and didn't just throw them out right away. 

Mommy... Mommy2justone

I could see why the store would be upset. If he was sticking his bare hands into the hot food bar they will have to take out all of the food and replace it with new. But there are other ways of dealing with approaching the woman. The guard was way out of line. 
Sis' could have watched him a little better, but who knows, maybe she was overwhelmed, or maybe she turned her back for just a minute. You know how kids can be, and children with autism usually don't have impulse control.  

Blues... Blueshark77

When I read the story on a different site the security guard said "I'm not saying he needs to be put on a leash, but you need to keep a closer eye on him". This guy is known for taking food from the store so it's not like his sister is unaware of the problem. So now the security guard has resigned because he was doing his job, trying to prevent theft. 

nonmember avatar common sense

Just saying if a child was caught doing this, they would be reprimanded by their parents, not sure why this man should be looked at differently. And what is this "differently-abled crap? Last time I checked, it is a disability, hate to say it. No parent I know would willingly, if given the choice, have their child be autistic.

nonmember avatar Lilac

The guard was out of line but just because the store forgave him in the past does not mean they will forgive every time. After 3 or 4 times the store is going to get fed up with someone repeatable stealing food. Also if he did not use the tongs provided and reached in with his bare hands the whole plate of food would have to be thrown out because of sanitary laws. Only so many times a shop will be willing to take a loss by throwing out so much food. If he had a habit of doing this why didn't his sister buy him some of the hot food to eat as they shopped together. He could have burn himself badly reaching in with bare hands.

miche... micheledo

Yeah, after reading the article it seems to be an overreaction. He could have used different words, and it sounds like he might have said something very different. Also, I assume he is using his bare hands and not getting a clean fork out to eat the food? Now all the food in the container is contaminated so paying for what he ate wouldn't take care of it.

Caera Caera

Uh, you might want to untwist your panties and put your soapbox away. To "put someone on a leash" is a very common expression, meaning someone needs to be controlled.

Which sounds exactly about right here, autistic or not. Anyone else would probably have been held for stealing, which is what he was doing.

dirti... dirtiekittie

my question is - why is the autistic community "in an uproar"? based on the story, this looks to be an overblown situation. and what, just because a grown man is eating out of a hot food bar by his own accord all the people around him should automatically know he's autistic? "oh, yeah, don't mind John - he totally steals food from the store all the time. He's autistic, you know." Well when you put it that way, it comes across kind of insulting, doesn't it? 

and in a way, i feel for the security guard. if the girl knows about this issue happening repeatedly, and the store has to write up losses each time... well maybe if they'd had to write off the food this time, they would have fired the security guard for not doing his job? it's not a good situation, but at the same time, you cannot simply use "he's handicapped!" as an excuse to everything. 

chigi... chigirl1228

I kind of get mad at things like this. All I hear all the time is how autistic children (or adults in this case) want to be treated normally and that is perfectly fine! I have no disagreements with that. But it becomes a problem when people want special treatment. You can not just take food from the hot food bar and think it's perfectly acceptable because he's autistic. Either we treat disabled (and yes it's disabled not differently-abled because that is not a word :/) people equally or we don't. You don't get to pick and choose moments.

LoveM... LoveMyKBabies

I think the guard should have definitely worded it better & the sister should have kept a better eye on him. Quite honestly if my sons mental age & his reactions & impulses don't change as he grows, I may actually have to consider getting him a leash. I'm talking one of those cute little bookbags w/a lead type they make for kids. As it is, I can still fit him in a stroller. I'll do what's necessary to keep him safe, but I'll also make sure he knows digging into a hot food buffet is wrong. If he throws a screaming fit, I guess we'll leave.

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