The Moscow Oceanarium, which opened its doors in autumn, seems not to be welcoming everyone.
A group of children diagnosed with autism has been denied access.
“Refused. Visitors do not like to see the disabled, it disappoints them. It is not acceptable,” read a note sent to teachers of a school that had tried to organize an excursion for autistic children.
Further, the Moscow Oceanarium administrator suggested visiting the oceanarium on a cleanup day – so that “nobody sees them.”
The school had contacted the Oceanarium to help organize a tour for several groups of children.
But when the Oceanarium’s staff learned the children were autistic, “the lady answering the call was clearly pushed back,” and “made quite an awkward attempt to clarify what autism meant,” wrote a mother of one of the kids on her Facebook page.
Though the teacher explained that autism is a lifelong disability that affects how a person communicates and relates to others, and that physically such children are normal, the teacher was still advised that the group should visit on a day when the Oceanarium is closed to the public.
“If there had been a group of people using wheelchairs, then we could have explained the Oceanarium’s reluctance to let them in on a weekend …
but a visit on a cleanup day is beyond understanding,” noted a Russian blogger.