Girl with autism blocked from using toilets ‘as she didn’t look disabled enough’

A bus station attendant refused to let a teenage girl with autism and extreme anxiety use the disabled toilets because she "didn't look disabled enough," the 15-year-old claims.

Millie Collins from Blackley, Manchester wears a lanyard to explain that she has a hidden disability, but she says a bus station attendant told her 'you don't look disabled enough,' pointing out that she's not in a wheelchair.

The alleged incident took place at Shudehill bus station in Manchester city centre at around 5.30pm on Tuesday, September 14, leaving the young girl in tears.

Following a brief exchange, the member of staff relented and opened the disabled toilets, while still complaining about her apparent lack of disability, according to Millie.

Transport bosses have since apologised for not "meeting the standards expected," Manchester Evening News reported.

Millie is registered disabled and has autism, foetal alcohol syndrome and extreme anxiety.

She was returning to her home in Blackley following a shopping trip into Manchester with a friend when she needed to use the facilities at Shudehill bus station and asked a member of staff to open the disabled toilets for her.

She said: "I asked politely and they told me 'no'. They said 'well you don't look disabled enough'.

"I told them I had special needs, that I have autism.

"They would not let me use it. I showed them my hidden disability lanyard which I was wearing around my neck. They were being dead rude and I started crying.

"I told them I had extremely bad anxiety and that I have panic attacks if I go in the small stalls. I also showed them my disabled bus pass.

"They just kept shouting at me that I didn't look disabled enough. I was being dead polite and the only reason they let me in was because I started arguing back.

"Even when they unlocked the door they were still carrying on and said 'you are probably lying'.

"I said 'why would I lie?'."

Millie said she was given a key for the disabled toilets when she got her bus pass, but that she had never used it and it was at home during the incident.

She added: "I was very upset about it. It was embarrassing.

"I was treated very badly. There was no need for it. I don't think they understood the impact that could have on someone. I'm worried about going to town now."

Millie's grandmother, Wendy, 58, who is also her legal guardian and carer, has sent an official complaint to Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).

She said: "It's disgusting. She had the lanyard and bus pass and she's still not believed. It does highlight that people do have disabilities other than physical disabilities. There are lots and lots of people who don't have a wheelchair who have disabilities."

TfGM's head of facilities management Howard Hartley said: “I am sorry for the experience this customer had with us at Shudehill Interchange and for any distress caused.

"We do a lot of work to make sure everyone can use our bus stations and interchanges safely, confidently and independently and last year joined the Sunflower scheme to further support people with hidden disabilities.

"Unfortunately we did not meet the standards expected on this occasion and have reminded staff about our policies with regards to use of our facilities."

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