Gran ‘distraught’ after KFC staff refuse to turn off music for autistic child

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A woman and her nine-year-old granddaughter have been forced out of KFC after staff refused to make adjustments for the child’s disabilities. Grandma said it ruined their day.

Anne Deegan Hunt, from Southport, had taken her granddaughter Leila to the KFC on Eastbank Street on Saturday with Leila’s carer. Leila, who has learning disabilities and autism, was distressed by the music playing inside the fast food restaurant.

Leila became inconsolable as she climbed onto the table and begged for the music to stop, and grandmother-of-eight Anne couldn’t calm her down. After explaining her disability to KFC staff, Anne asked if they could turn off the music until they left, but the manager refused.

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Addressing the ECHO the 61-year-old said: “Leila had managed to climb onto a table and was screaming for the music to be turned down. The whole store could hear her.

“I explained that she had autism and asked the clerk at the counter if he could turn off the music. He told me he would have to speak to the manager.



Leila, 9, suffers from social anxiety, autism and Goldenhar Syndrome

“Leila had started punching herself in the stomach. She has a stoma, so she was at risk of serious injury.”

When the employee came out, Anne was told that the manager would not turn the music off and it could only be turned down. She said: “The employee was really understanding and he apologized, but the manager didn’t even come out to see what was going on.”

Leila, who also has Goldenhar Syndrome and suffers from social anxiety, struggles to find activities she enjoys doing.

Her grandmother said: “Due to her autism she has developed an anxiety about going out and she only likes to do certain things. I was more upset for Leila because she is one of the few things she likes to do.”

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Anne eventually managed to get Leila off the table but had no choice but to leave. She added: “I don’t think turning off the music would have ruined anyone’s dining experience. It’s probably more distressing to watch a child in that state.

“As they didn’t want to turn off the music, the situation only got worse. I felt distraught and Leila’s disability was not taken into account at all.”

A KFC spokesperson said: “We’re so sorry we misunderstood this one. We want our restaurants to be a welcoming place for everyone, and we’ve been following the team to make sure that does not happen again. We would like to catch up with the family and we would like them to get in touch with our care team to give us the chance.”

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