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Tourette Teenager Ejected From Theater

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  • Tourette Teenager Ejected From Theater

    A teenager?s experience at a movie theater is raising questions about how U.S. federal law protects those afflicted with Tourette syndrome and the rights of a business to respond to its customers.

    Jennifer Irizarry, 13, went to see ?The Chronicles of Narnia? at Cinemagic on Dec. 26, 2005 in Merrimck, N.H.. Before the opening credits, several other movie-goers complained about her high-pitched squeaks and vocal outbursts.

    She claims a manager led her to the lobby and threatened to eject her if she had another outburst. But theater management denies that she was asked to leave.

    ?What I told her was between me and her, but she wasn?t forced to leave,? said Jamie Pinard, the theater?s general manager.

    Realizing that her condition would worsen under the stress of being singled out in front of her friends, Irizarry decided to leave. She and her parents accuse the theater of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, but the law may not apply in her case.

    According to the U.S. Department of Justice, protection under the law depends largely on the severity of the syndrome. Spokesman Eric Holland wouldn?t comment on Irizarry?s case, but said others with Tourette?s syndrome have won civil cases under ADA bylaws.

    ?However, not everyone with Tourette?s meets the definition of a ?person with a disability,? because the condition may not substantially limit the person in any major life activity,? he said.

    Mark Adam, president of Zyacorp Entertainment, which oversees Cinemagic, said he is sympathetic to Irizarry?s condition but defended the theater manager?s actions as ?sensitive and appropriate.?

    ?The young girl was treated by our general manager with the utmost concern,? he said. ?We allowed her to continue watching the movie. At no time was she asked to leave.?

    Irizarry was diagnosed in 2000. At first, only her eyes fluttered. Then, she started making a high-pitched noise and repeating expletives she had overheard.

    With medication, most of that behavior has subsided. Her parents said they hope their daughter?s experience will open the eyes of businesses toward others with Tourette?s syndrome.

    Source: Union Leader: Associated Press
    ------------------
    What has been your experience with dealing with Tourette while attending a public venue such as a movie theater?
    Steve

    Dum spiro spero....While I breathe, I hope

    Tourette Canada Homepage
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  • #2
    Tourette Teenager Ejected From Theater

    I find myself troubled on this issue.

    I'm eager to advocate the rights of the TS group in this situation. I love seeing movies, and I would hate to be asked to leave, or be confronted about my tics in that situation.

    At the same time, though, I love the cinematic experience of seeing movies in theatres. Cell phones, people talking, etc, disrupts the movie for everyone. Someone with Tourette's isn't at fault for their noises or outbursts, but I can understand the problems it might cause for the other movie-goers.

    It certainly puts the theatre owners in a tough position -- if there are customers complaining, they do have an obligation to them. At the same time, they need to respect people with disabilities or conditions which interfere with their lives, not to mention the risk of bad press for their business.

    Of course tolerance is needed, but I'm undecided on where the level is. It's a tough area, because audience silence is important to the movie experience, but I don't think anyone with Tourette's should be kicked out either.

    That really is a tough one.
    Colin

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    • #3
      Tourette Teenager Ejected From Theater

      Cailean,

      Your point is well taken and I had difficulty coming down hard on either side. It seems there has to be give and take on both sides of the issue, with an understanding of the needs of others.
      Steve

      Dum spiro spero....While I breathe, I hope

      Tourette Canada Homepage
      If you enjoy the TC Forum, please consider a Tourette Canada membership
      Please visit our sister Forum: Psychlinks Psychology and Mental Health Support Forum

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