What was supposed to be a family day out for a young mother and her two children ended in tears after they were kicked out of a tourist attraction.
Melissa Beebe said her autistic daughter, Stella, could barely contain her excitement as they prepared to venture into the Forbidden Caverns in Sevierville, Tennessee.
But it was that same excitement that saw the Beebe family asked to leave the tour before it even kicked off.
“The tour guide asked me in front of about 30 people if he could ask me a question and I knew what he was about to ask, so I just answered “she’s autistic and just excited’,” she explained in a Facebook post.
“He then told me we can leave and go get a refund for the tour. He kicked us off the tour before it even started because my kid WAS LAUGHING AND CLAPPING.”
She said her other daughter, Bridger, didn’t understand what was happening and started to cry, before she too broke down
“I started crying because I’ve never experienced blatant discrimination or been kicked out of anywhere,” she said, adding that that she was no offered no apology as she went to collect her refund.
In a statement posted to Facebook, the Forbidden Caverns management team said the claims against them “could not be further from the truth”.
“It has come to our knowledge that we were accused of not allowing children with special needs to enter the cave, this could not be further from the truth, as every year we escort thousands of children from schools across the region many of whom have special needs,” the statement reads.
“We are a family attraction and take accusations of this nature to heart and truly want to be an experience that all can enjoy.”