Parents of boy with autism take on Dwight's restaurant - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Parents of boy with autism take on Dwight's restaurant through social media

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A Putnam County woman's story about her experience at a local restaurant Friday has created quite a buzz on social media. Hurricane resident Terri Brown posted on her Facebook page that she didn't like the way her autistic son was treated during a recent trip to Dwight's in St.Albans.

The post has been shared hundreds of times since it was originally posted Saturday.

Brown wrote that her son Alex wanted to stop and get french fries at McDonald's. She went on to explain that sometimes Alex can be picky about the food he eats. Brown said that she and her husband Robert wanted to go to nearby Dwight's to eat. So they let Alex take his McDonald's fries inside to eat at the table with them.

Brown then described what happen after they walked inside.

"After arriving we pick a back booth as Alex proceeds to align his Pokemon in fashionable order and asking for a plate for his fries," Terri Brown wrote. "The lady comes out to the table and before even welcoming us says 'he can't have those fries in here it is against health department rules.'"

She went on to explain that her husband told the employee that Alex had autism and that it can be difficult to get him to eat other foods. She said they were told once again that he couldn't have the fries inside the restaurant because of health department rules.

The family left and went to a Pizza Hut in Hurricane. Brown said that Alex was allowed to eat his fries there and the manager even went the extra mile to get Alex extra ketchup.

The post has prompted numerous comments from the community.

"It is just wrong all together," said Courtney West. "You don't treat kids like that."

"They have no concept of disability and they need to be trained in it," said Dale McCallister, regarding how Dwight's handled the situation.

Some people have also taken to social media to support Dwight's saying that the restaurant should not be faulted for the actions of one employee. Others have said the attention could damage business.

A manager at Dwight's Sunday declined to comment. He said the owner may have a statement Monday. The manager also refused to comment about the restaurant's policies, if any, regarding customers bringing in food from outside restaurants.

Dwight's did address the matter on their Facebook page saying:

"To all of our valued patrons. There has been a flurry of posts yesterday and today regarding a specific experience one of our customers had in our family operated restaurant recently. We want to reiterate that we are happy and pleased to serve all of our customers big and small. While we do have a wonderful and nutritious children's menu, it is never our intention to turn away any customers. We have discussed and addressed this feedback amongst our staff. We value all of our customers and apologize for if the actions of any of our staff members offended anyone . We do appreciate everyone's feedback and comments as it is the only way we can improve our customer interactions and experiences."

13 News also contacted Anita Ray, Environment Health Director for the Kanawha Charleston Health Department. She said the Brown family would not have been violating any health department rules by bringing the french fries into the restaurant.

Ray said it would be up to the restaurant to create and enforce any policies regarding food from other restaurants.

April is National Autism Awareness Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 88 births in the United States and almost 1 in 54 boys.

To learn more, follow the link provided.

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