Mayte Q.’s head rewinds again and again to May 2, Mother’s Day and the day she received a beating that left her unconscious in Warner Park in Madrid for defending her son with autism. He still does not understand how a man “between 40 and 50 years old” took it first with Jimy, 11 years old, because he had priority to enter the attractions due to his disability, and then with her, who approached him to explain that the boy was terrified by his teasing and asking him to please leave him alone. Now, stuffed with pills against depression at the age of 38, she dares to speak to EL PAÍS with only one goal: to highlight the problem of misunderstanding suffered by families of people with an invisible disability such as autism spectrum disorder, known for its acronym, TEA.
Mayte’s case, now in court, has become the tip of the iceberg of a problem that many families report on a day-to-day basis, according to Ana Vidal, coordinator of the ProTGD Autismo association. “Every day we receive calls or emails from people telling us about different situations. It is no longer that people look strange or with pity, it is that many look with contempt. And that is a disability that is more common than we think ”.
Full Inclusion Madrid, a federation of 118 organizations of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities to which ProTGD Autism belongs, explains that epidemiological studies carried out in Europe indicate a prevalence of approximately one case of ASD per 100 births. In Spain there are about 450,000 people diagnosed and an estimated 60,000 in Madrid. Of these, around 6,000 are registered in different associations, such as Mayte, who belongs to ProTGD to receive support with her son.
The Warner plan was planned primarily to get away. Mayte lost her mother just a year ago and has since been mired in acute emotional instability for which she has lost up to 15 kilos. That day, two childhood friends suggested that she spend the day at the theme park located in the town of San Martín de la Vega, in the south of the Madrid region, so that she could get a little distracted. She agreed, and the three of them gathered their six children — two of each — and set off to enjoy Mother’s Day.
The park, inaugurated in Madrid in 2002, It has a badge for people with disabilities. It is a blue bracelet with which they can access the attractions through fast queues, a formula designed so that these people, and up to three companions, do not have to wait excessively. Jimy entered one of them. He wanted to ride the Batman ride, a kind of roller coaster ride, and Mayte’s two friends decided to go with him. At that time, a group of men reprimanded them for having “sneaked in”, according to Jimy’s mother, sitting in a cafeteria in Leganés and still with nerves on the surface. They explained to the men that they had priority because the minor had a disability. “A Mongolian?” One of them scoffed, waving his arms. The teasing was accompanied by some laughter and some more insults, but the incident stayed there.
After getting off the attraction, the boy was obsessed “with the bad man” and when he found him again later he began to scream, out of his mind. That is the moment that Mayte rewinds over and over again in her head, because that was when she decided to reach out to mediate. “Are you the mother of the Mongol?” He insisted, then grabbed her hair and slammed her to the ground. She scrambled, got to her feet, faced him and, again, ended up against the concrete, with the bad luck that she fell face down and lost consciousness. “I have to thank the park for how well they behaved. First they held him until the Civil Guard arrived and they gave me the first cures, ”says the mother. The photos that were taken later of her in the hospital – which she prefers not to be published – show a decomposing woman, crying, with a split lip, a bloody nose, black eyes and a deep wound on her forehead. In addition, the medical report shows that they detected a cervical injury. When the court’s forensic doctor saw the injury report, she issued a report that halted the speedy trial that was scheduled for the 13th. The case will be tried as a criminal offense.
The families of people with ASD constantly report situations that are at least unpleasant. Jose Manuel Barbé, 35, recorded a video on March 22, 2020 that went viral on Twitter in which he explained the treatment that both he and his son Adrián, who was nine years old at the time, were suffering because of acquaintances What balcony cops. They were in the first wave of the pandemic and, after several days locked up, they decided to go out for a walk thanks to the permission granted by the Government to people with disabilities and a medical certificate that explained that the child, in addition to being autistic He was hyperactive and needed to go outside. No one asked them why they were supposedly breaking the rules. They directly insulted them and even wished them death.
“My son is old and before he used to exercise a lot to burn energy. And he could not explain that global pandemic situation to him because he did not understand anything. I could not spend 10 seconds watching TV, not a minute in a row sitting. It was really hard, ”explains Barbé. The neighbors, in addition to reprimanding them in the street, denounced them and the police immediately appeared in the park. He showed the receipt and that was the end of the debate. “The strong thing was that then they began to yell at us again, even louder, and to insult more, outraged. What did they want? That they stopped me in front of my son?
That situation, which began to be a general problem, provoked a strong debate within the associations that belong to Plena Inclusión. Some family members thought it would be a good idea to identify themselves with a bracelet or a T-shirt so that neighbors would know that they were dealing with people with disabilities. Others objected. It meant further stigmatizing their children, labeling them. “The problem is social, of education. Autism must be made visible with talks so that the characteristics and needs are known and that they are not seen as strange creatures, ”argues Vidal. Knowledge as a weapon to eradicate names such as “Mongolian”.
Subscribe here to our new newsletter about Madrid
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.