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Lake in the Hills mother with disabled son asked to leave 'Dumbo' screening

Jennifer Daly and her son Jonathan Daly.
Jennifer Daly and her son Jonathan Daly.

A Lake in the Hills woman said her family was asked to leave a movie theater after moviegoers complained her disabled son was causing a distraction.

On Friday night, Jennifer Daly said she took both of her sons to the Lake in the Hills AMC, 311 Randall Road, to see a screening of Disney's "Dumbo" remake.

One of her sons, 3-and-a-half-year-old Jonathan Daly, struggles with a rare form of dwarfism and cervical spine issues. He relies on a wheelchair and medical equipment when traveling, she said.

Jennifer Daly took to Facebook on Saturday to voice her frustration.

"I have never been more angry or cried more than what happened to me last night," she wrote in the post that has been shared more than 6,000 times as of Monday afternoon. "At one point during the movie Jonathan yelled out in his giggle twice not more than 20 seconds each and giggled. This happened when Dumbo sucked in the feather to fly. He was loving the movie. Needless to say 10 minutes later I had a woman who probably was a manager come to where we sat and told me there was a noise complaint of a baby crying. I looked at her and said he did not cry he giggled twice. I was told I immediately had to pack up to leave. I was mortified never in my life have I ever been kicked out of anything especially if I had done nothing wrong."

Jennifer Daly told the Northwest Herald it was a "devastating" experience. She said she never expected her Facebook post to go viral because it was just meant to show "people how to be kind to each other."

Jennifer Daly said Jonathan Daly "is a happy child" and "is not one to know that someone's being unkind to him."

"He's an innocent kind of kid," she said.

However, her oldest son, 6-year-old Kristopher Daly, asked her why they were asked to leave.

"He looked at me and was like 'I don't get it,'" Jennifer Daly said. "He's at an age when he's going to remember that."

In a statement to the Northwest Herald Monday afternoon, the company stood firm.

"To ensure a quality moviegoing experience for everyone, disruptive behavior is not permitted during a movie," according to the statement. "During the show, an AMC manager received multiple complaints from guests about an ongoing disruption during the movie. The manager investigated, and identified the guest exhibiting the disruptive noises that caused the guest complaints. During a conversation with the guest’s mother, the manager offered several options, including relocating the family within the auditorium to minimize the disruption, offering a private show for the family, and informing her of AMC’s Sensory Friendly Films program, which waives AMC’s rules on disruptive behavior during a movie."

The company said Jennifer Daly received a refund, but declined all of the other options offered.

"However, we remain open to a discussion with the family about welcoming them back to see the movie," the statement reads. "We want everyone to feel welcome at the movie theatre, which is why AMC and the Autism Society established the Sensory Friendly Films program more than a decade ago. AMC is proud to offer unique movie showings where we turn the lights up, and turn the sound down, so guests can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing."

Jennifer Daly said she's hopes this doesn't happen to another family. She said it takes planning to organize outings with a special needs child, and their night was ruined. Still, she said the manager doesn't deserve the hate lobbed against her on social media.

"People were persecuting this poor manager," she said. "I'm not angry with her. I think she got stuck with a bad situation. ... I honestly think she realized after she got me out in the hallway and started talking with me that she made a mistake. My issue is that I don't think there was a proper evaluation."

On Monday, Jennifer Daly said she has no desire to see a movie anytime soon.

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