Amanda Braun was enjoying dinner with her family at an Outback Steakhouse in Glen Burnie, Maryland, when a male manager approached their table.
The man asked how they were liking their meals and then he cut to the chase. Apparently, Braun’s 4-year-old son Killian was disturbing other diners and the group was going to have to leave.
“He said Killian was being too noisy and they had received a complaint," the Baltimore-based mom told TODAY Parents. “But Killian wasn’t being wild. He was playing a game on my phone and trying to eat his macaroni.”
Braun, who is also mom of Caleb, 11, and Charlotte, 2, explained that Killian was born with a motor disorder called childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). According to the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association, a child with CAS knows what they want to say, but the brain has trouble working with the muscles needed to make clear sounds. Killian uses sign language and a special tablet to communicate his thoughts. He also works with a speech therapist three times a week.
But the Outback Steakhouse employee refused to budge.
“The gentleman said he was sorry and that he understood, but we still needed to get going,” Braun, 31, said. A couple of minutes later, he returned with a $20 Outback credit to redeem at a later time and explained it was for their “troubles.”
Braun and her fiancé, Patrick Tesch, weren’t the only ones shaken by the turn of events. In the parking lot, Killian’s brother Caleb was visibly upset. “He said, ‘That wasn’t right. How can they do that?'”
A few days later, once Braun had cooled off, she sat down and wrote about the experience on Facebook and asked her friends and family to share the post.
“I was so hurt and frustrated,” she told TODAY Parents.
Braun has since been in touch with the Outback Steakhouse corporate offices. She praised regional vice president Jackie Myers, who has been “very sincere and apologetic.”
When Braun made it clear she is not looking to receive any financial compensation, Myers suggested that company make a donation to Braun’s charity of choice.
Braun liked that idea and chose the 2019 DC Walk for Apraxia. “I asked if they wanted to be a sponsor for the walk and Jackie thought that was an amazing idea,” Braun said. “She is also talking with planners about doing a food truck.”
Outback Steakhouse will also be rolling out new disability training in the next six weeks, Braun said.
A spokesperson for the Australia-themed chain told TODAY Parents in a statement: “We strive to make sure all guests feel comfortable and welcomed in our restaurants and we fell short. We’re learning from what happened and training our team so we can better serve our diverse guest population.”
Braun isn’t angry with the manager who asked them to leave. “He made a wrong decision. We’re all humans and we all make mistakes,” she said. “I’m happy with the way everything turned out. Outback took a negative situation and turned it into a positive.”