COSTA MESA (CBSLA) — When “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” played at Segerstrom Hall this summer, 18-year-old Logan Mundt was ready to see his favorite show live on stage.
For the June 8 show, Mundt’s mom Francine made sure her son had his earphones and blanket and knew the schedule of the day. The Huntington Beach mom bought three tickets so Logan would have plenty of room, but he wanted to sit lower on the section in an area that had some vacant seats.
“I had the ushers come over to me and they said, ‘We can’t have him moving around during the show,'” Francine said.
She said she explained to the ushers that her son has autism and that bringing him back to their original trio of seats would create more of a disturbance. She asked the ushers if it was possible to let her son sit in the seat he chose for the remainder of the show since there were not many people there for the show that day.
“They understood, and it was great,” she said.
A few days later, Logan told his mother he wanted to go see the show again, so she bought tickets for her son and his care provider. Patrons complained that Logan was disrupting the show, and Francine said this time the ushers told Logan he had to leave — before the first act finished — and locked him out of the theater.
“He was in full meltdown mode,” Francine said. “So if you can imagine, a 6-foot-4 man standing outside crying and screaming.”
The single mom said she wasn’t angry at Segerstrom, but that she wants better sensitivity training for people who work in public places. And, she said, this training shouldn’t be focused solely on children with autism, but also for working with adults with autism.
In a statement about the incident, the theater said it was continuing its work to make the theater a more inclusive place for all patrons, and said that it encourages patrons to contact the theater in advance with any requests or concerns.
Francine has started a business that consults with organizations on how they can better address the needs and concerns of those with autism. She said that, if asked, she would absolutely work with the theater on developing this training for its staff — for free.