Mission mother speaks out on alleged discrimination at TruFit

Kayla Lynn Alvarado had spent 12 minutes on the treadmill at TruFit when she was asked to leave with her son.

Alvarado’s son, Kion, was at the gym’s daycare center located inside the gym on 1718 E Griffin Pkwy. while his mother worked out Monday evening. Alvarado went to check in on her son, who has autism, but said she was met at the daycare center with an employee telling her her son had to leave for throwing a tantrum.

Kayla Lynn Alvarado and her son, Kion. Courtesy image

“Apparently he had been stomping his feet on the ground and throwing himself,” Alvarado said. “I tried to explain to the staff member that my son has autism and has trouble communicating but she was very adamant and kept telling me condescendingly that we had to leave. She wouldn’t even give me a chance to calm him down”

According to the rules listed on the TruFit website, children in the daycare center who cannot be calmed down by a staff member within 15 minutes must be comforted by their parents. The rules also say children who are not responsive to a staff member’s attempt to stop disruptive behavior will need to be removed by their parents or guardians from the Kid’s Club area.

If a child is disruptive for three times, they will not be allowed back into the daycare facility, the rules continued. 

Alvarado said she felt humiliated by the incident and has no plans to return to Trufit because of it. Kion regularly goes to the daycare center and Alvarado said she always leaves him with her phone so he can watch videos on YouTube and lets the staff members know of his autism.

“I’m guessing he panicked because he came across an ad on my phone and didn’t know how to exit it to get back to his videos,” Alvarado said. “I understand that he can be a lot, especially when there’s other kids around, but I felt so distressed, embarrassed and alienated by this incident. It felt as if they were telling me my son is a problem child because of his autism and that’s a brutal feeling.”

Alvarado retelling this story on social media prompted a response from TruFit’s corporate office the day after the incident. In a phone call, TruFit Regional Vice President Robert Swigert said the situation was appropriately handled.

“As an organization, we’re not a childcare facility, we offer babysitting services,” Swigert said. “Our statement is we’re going to do the right thing to protect children in those environments. We don’t discipline children in those environments, we ask parents to do that and that’s what happened. I think we handled that well but it’s clear [Alvarado] is looking for a different level of service than we provide.”

Alvarado confirmed to the Progress Times that Swigert had reached out to her and provided a similar statement. She said that wasn’t enough.

“I appreciate how he was checking in on me and being compassionate, but he was basically telling me that the daycare center was false advertising,” Alvarado said. “He said it’s a babysitting service, not a certified daycare so his staff won’t be trained or paid to care for children with disabilities. TruFit can definitely afford to train their staff members on stuff like that but by not doing that, it feels like they’re saying that parents in a similar boat as me can’t use their facilities for the same reason.”

According to Edward Saenz, community coordinator for the local autism awareness non-profit Bebo’s Angels, it’s common for many businesses to alienate those with disabilities despite the Americans with Disabilities Act which prohibits discrimination based on disability.

“Though there is a federal law and more awareness on people with disabilities there is a disconnect in the community,” Saenz said. “There’s still a lack of understanding and tolerance we see when it comes to how private businesses treat those with disabilities, especially children.”

Saenz added that Bebo’s Angels usually receive numerous calls from the public advising them of local businesses that aren’t welcoming to those with autism and other disabilities. Ultimately, however, he usually doesn’t see much enforcement of the ADA.

“Everyone should have fair and complete access to a business and we try to ensure businesses abide by it but I do know individual private businesses owners do put their foot down sometimes, “Saenz said. “I’ve never seen anyone enforce it though, the worse they get is just bad publicity, but we do hope TruFit is more accommodating to people with autism in the future.”

Alvarado said she has received criticism on social media for taking her son to a public place, which she says is something her son deserves to have.

“I’m not going to sit back and hide at home with him because people refuse to be open and accepting to people like him, who doesn’t want to live a normal life?” Alvarado said. “So far he doesn’t really understand what happened at the gym and seemed more upset over missing out on his videos but I’m not going to let him miss out on life. He should be able to go out and be himself like everyone else. If people can’t have compassion for him, that’s unacceptable.”

45 Comments

  1. American on January 22, 2021 at 7:46 am

    Someone should really check this mother. Why would you leave your special needs child at a gym daycare. I’m sure she has been educating on the needs of her child. Wha was she thinking

    • Edna Cruz on January 22, 2021 at 8:30 am

      Wow, what is wrong with you, this child should be treated equally. She was thinking that her child would be taken care of. They knew he was autism. Autism children are special needs children that need a little bit more attention. So IF Trufit is not someone you can trust with CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS, THEY HAVE NO WAY IN ADVERTISING THEIR SERVICES FOR ALL EQUALLY.

      • Foxtrot Yankee Foxtrot on January 22, 2021 at 2:02 pm

        Going to the gym and being able to take your kids at the facilities daycare is a priveledge. CLEARLY she knows her child needs special attention and a gym is not obligated to provide/train employees with those requirements. She should know how it works. She’s not above anybody else at the gym just because she doesn’t want to pay a professional provider while she lives her “normal” life. Being selfish and discrimination are two very different things. Get over it and get outta here with that b.s.!

        • Monica on January 23, 2021 at 12:39 am

          Not that she doesn’t want to pay some people can only afford the gym nothing extra

    • Me on January 22, 2021 at 9:16 am

      Someone should check you for being so ignorant and cold hearted. Kids and parents of kids with disabilities have a right to live life just like everyone else. I believe that business should start being more open to training their staff. Yes you have rights but we do too. I don’t understand how the government is more occupied in getting illegals their rights and what about our US citizens kids with disabilities? As human beings we should be more connected and more understanding. Imagine the world if we all had the heart to feel love and compassion for those kids and their families. The child was not hitting anyone or any other child. People please you go to “church” and don’t really have any good feelings.

      • Foxtrot Yankee Foxtrot on January 22, 2021 at 2:14 pm

        Other’s shouldn’t have a bad time just because someone will not pay for adequate child care for a special needs kid. This mom is completely wrong and out of touch. She doesn’t get special treatment just because her kid is autistic. This highlights exactly what is wrong with people now. Everyone gets offended for anything. Grow up, grow a backbone, and be a parent. Outta here with all that b.s.!

      • Guason on January 22, 2021 at 7:54 pm

        She should leave the kid eith the DAD, the parent SHOULD HAVE KNOWN. The kid was being too chaotic, the mother is the only person who understands the child NOT ANYONE ELSE. If you’re being disruptive you get kicked out. #EQUALITY

    • Foxtrot Yankee Foxtrot on January 22, 2021 at 2:21 pm

      Agreed!

    • Dee on January 30, 2021 at 8:11 am

      Check her for what exactly? For going to a gym, and taking her child to a daycare that they promote for their business? People are so ignorant, and they display it proudly.

  2. Joe on January 22, 2021 at 7:50 am

    It’s not called missing out on life when all you have a child doing is watching videos on a phone. Maybe if she was wanting him to take advantage of some sort of activities going on in the child care or day care.. this is solely about her and how she felt..

    • Melissa on January 22, 2021 at 7:58 am

      Completely agree with Joe and American!!

      • Lizeth on January 24, 2021 at 3:13 pm

        Stfu if there’s no other option and she wants to work out she has to take her child to the gym that has a care facility inside the gym. I bet you would leave you child at home by themselves just to not struggle think before you comment something so ignorant, kids with autism sometimes they want to just watch videos when there not around there parents and are with total strangers you need to do your research dumb people.

    • Edna Cruz on January 22, 2021 at 8:33 am

      Lots of kids are being entertain with videos now a days. It seems like you do not have children. Lots of times this is how childten are controlled by parents, she is not the first or the last.

  3. Michael Pena on January 22, 2021 at 11:51 am

    Special needs is a disability, and discrimination against a disability is wrong. TruFit will hide behind “disruptive” behavior as a scapegoat cause they cant ask the question of “is your child special needs” as a disqualifier. Or else trufit would get sued. I will never support a business like this nor recommend it to anyone. Trufit needs to have a better standard of hiring for the day care department. I’m sure they just hire anyone that can just sit on their phone to take a daycare rep title.

    • Bane on January 22, 2021 at 7:56 pm

      The mother is the only person who will understand the child with a disorder. Not hiding. #EQUALITY treatment

    • Lizeth on January 24, 2021 at 3:15 pm

      Yess Micheal Peña 🙌

  4. Edgar on January 22, 2021 at 12:28 pm

    Clearly our school system has failed all of us if kids with disabilities have and will still be stigmatized. There’s no education whatsoever with how we should behave and learn to accept those with special needs. You will never understand what parents with children with special needs go through if you have never gone through it or know anyone who has special needs. With that being said ignorant people will always stay ignorant unless they decide to simply think for other people but themselves. We speak for our kids because clearly they don’t have a voice.

    • Foxtrot Yankee Foxtrot on January 22, 2021 at 2:19 pm

      This has nothing to do with the mom being clueless. Trufit is a gym not a special needs daycare. Cellphones aren’t special need providers either. She needs to PAY for the right care and then she can go live her normal life instead of trying to take advantage of the system.

      • IPuttLikeSergio on January 23, 2021 at 7:56 am

        You speak with common sense. Why is this simple concept so difficult to understand for the SJW’s that seem to be plaguing society? This mother is not including the child in any activity she is doing. She’s exercising while the child is literally dumped in the Fun Center on the other side of the building. Mom is a self-centered ______.

      • Omar on January 23, 2021 at 10:38 am

        What system? How is she taking advantage, she pays the same as any other guest at the gym. Her kid should be able to be in normal “daycare “ just like the rest of the kids. He has autism not some sort of disorder that requieres that special care you talk about. All it is, is a little more patience and understanding with her kid. The day care is part of their business strategy they use to attract more people, therefore they need to be more aware of who and how they train their employees. It’s business ethic to do the right thing. As a business it’s hard to be right with everything but what matters is the reaction taken when an unfortunate event/situation happens. Human consideration is what lacks in this world.

    • Rey Mysterio on January 22, 2021 at 7:59 pm

      Not TruFit’s problem that she didn’t want to pay for a autism child daycare. Besides where’s the father? Couldn’t she dropped it off at grandma’s house or sister’s?

      • Monica on January 22, 2021 at 10:56 pm

        Could you recommend an “Autism Child Daycare”? Of course not.

  5. Brandee on January 22, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    I believe this mother deserves a round of applause for taking time to love and defend her child’s rights along with her own. What mother wouldn’t want to have the same leisure’s as everyone else including time to relief stress and get out of the home. From one mommy of a special needs child to another, I say Bravo Kayla and what a wonderful mommy you are. Those of you leaving distasteful comments towards her must have nothing better to do but look down upon others who actually use their voice. Joe, You use your phone far more as an adult I assure you…waiting your life away, yet have the audacity to judge his use of videos as an unjustly life to stand up for.

  6. Maye on January 22, 2021 at 1:53 pm

    For the people saying child should be home you are completely wrong. This child with disabilities as any other child have to be in different environments to learn to adapt this only happens by actually going to the world and doing things. Such as daycare, restaurant, school, movies, etc. You cannot expect a child to learn to behave immediately its a process with any child specially with a child with autism the learning process is alot longer because of lack of social, intellectual and behavior skills. We all have the right to experience everyday activities as much as any other person without disabilities. Our autism kids are no less and deserve and have every right to experience what the world has to offer. Compassion needs to be in every person to make this world better. You just don’t know when a disability will come to you or your loved ones. Don’t judge what you don’t understand. And yes I’m a mother to a child with Autism.

  7. Maye on January 22, 2021 at 1:54 pm

    For the people saying child should be home you are completely wrong. This child with disabilities as any other child have to be in different environments to learn to adapt this only happens by actually going to the world and doing things. Such as daycare, restaurant, school, movies, etc. You cannot expect a child to learn to behave immediately its a process with any child specially with a child with autism the learning process is alot longer because of lack of social, intellectual and behavior skills. We all have the right to experience everyday activities as much as any other person without disabilities. Our autism kids are no less and deserve and have every right to experience what the world has to offer. Compassion needs to be in every person to make this world better. You just don’t know when a disability will come to you or your loved ones. Don’t judge what you don’t understand. And yes I’m a mother to a child with Autism.

  8. tf on January 22, 2021 at 4:42 pm

    Well if it’s not a special needs childcare, then why not post it? “We do not take care of special need children!” Otherwise, everyone is allowed to come in with the expectation that they are a childcare. Regardless of special needs or not.

    • Legolas on January 22, 2021 at 8:00 pm

      If you’re disruptive you get kicked out. #EQUALITY

    • Monica on January 23, 2021 at 12:43 am

      I think there is a act based on discrimination and disability is one of them. They could grey sued If they posted that I believe.

  9. Jesse on January 22, 2021 at 5:21 pm

    As a mother of a very special child…its hard to not get looks of criticism from strangers when we go out…even going to the groceries…are kids are part of this community and if you hadn’t noticed or cared. Look around there are so many of us …we are just trying to include them in every day activities and some of are kids dont speak so yes we are their voices and they might not understand the situation but we as their parent Do

  10. Rubi on January 22, 2021 at 8:33 pm

    I understand that as a parent you will always ensure that your child be treated fairly regardless if the child has disabilities or not, but also as parents we know our children better than anybody else. TruFit’s Fun Center is not a daycare center, that is stated in the rules. It’s also stated that any child with disruptive behavior will lose their fun center privileges, every child will be treated equally. The staff is trained to supervise and aid children in that controlled environment, but it is up to the parents to ensure that their children aren’t disruptive or disrespectful or else they will be asked to leave, it is common sense. The staff did what they had to do referencing their posted rules, if she wants special treatment for her son and daycare services she should pay a person trained to deal exclusively with children who have autism.

    • Ramirez on January 23, 2021 at 7:17 am

      Is tru fit a non-profit or a profit making business. I believe it’s the ladder. They should have trained staff members to assist as best they can. They should have given the mom the opportunity to calm her child. He to, is the son of God, as we all are. If we all practiced empathy daily, our world/society would be much better.

    • Ramirez on January 23, 2021 at 7:26 am

      Instructions Fit a non-profit or a profit organization. I believe it’s a profit entity, shame on them, for they should have trained employees that provide service. The mom should have been given the opportunity to calm or comfort her son. Practicing empathy makes our society better. This infant is God’s child just like all of us. Let us all open our eyes and expand our hearts and minds as well.

  11. Vicente on January 22, 2021 at 10:21 pm

    It is sad that a lot of people hide behind the discrimination badge when there are real cases going on in the world….back to the case though TruFit does not have the obligation to provide daycare for the parents those are extra privileges….first of all it is a gym not daycare….imagine if they would have ignored his tantrums and he would have gotten hurt I assure u 100 percent it would have been worse a sure lawsuit…..get on the ball lady and find something else to do he is it son not the world’s

  12. Ramirez on January 23, 2021 at 7:16 am

    Is tru fit a non-profit or a profit making business. I believe it’s the ladder. They should have trained staff members to assist as best they can. They should have given the mom the opportunity to calm her child. He to, is the son of God, as we all are. If we all practiced empathy daily, our world/society would be much better.

  13. IPuttLikeSergio on January 23, 2021 at 7:48 am

    Until the child is able to conform to societal norms (that is, behave), mom should exercise at home and not subject the rest of us to this nonsense. TruFit should discontinue offering daycare services, period. Parents should take care of their uncontrollable spawn first, exercise later and spare the rest of us the drama.

  14. Juli on January 23, 2021 at 8:27 am

    Look up Rgv Kidz Place. Edinburg’s first prescribed pediatric extended care center.

  15. Jessica on January 23, 2021 at 10:27 am

    My son is autistic and has meltdowns where he throws himself and tries to hurt others and because of that I do not take him to places that are not trained to care for autistic children. Just like schools have para’s and autistic children in a different room what’s so different of having your autistic child in another daycare that actually has patience and knows how to care for an autistic child? Not a lot of people have patience. So, why leave your child who you know will have meltdowns that no one can control but you alone in a room with strangers? My son knows with who to act up with and who not to. He’s 7 and I remind him before we go anywhere if he acts up anywhere, has a meltdown, throws himself, kicks anyone, or even tries to punch anyone he will be taken out immediately and sit down in his calm down area until he is ready to act right. His meltdowns have gone from 3 hours to less than 15 min. I also don’t give him electronics to be hooked on all day. He has his toys and I sit there next to him and have him play with them or go outside and play with his power wheels. He is non- verbal too and can’t communicate but now uses some words. If you can train a baby what no is. You can train a autistic child. They’re smart kids and understand you very well.

    • Barbara on January 24, 2021 at 4:43 pm

      I applaud your informative, sensible comment 👏!!!

  16. Norma on January 23, 2021 at 6:50 pm

    I’m sorry but she should of left the child with the father or a relative or someone that knows how to deal with a special needs child. You can’t expect anyone to know what to do if anything arises. We have a child with Autism and he’s only under the parents care either mom or the dad. If she goes on errands dad stays with him, if dad goes the mom stays.

  17. Licci on January 23, 2021 at 11:13 pm

    I’ve been to many gyms and they can’t change diapers, discipline children, and are usually not friendly so I wouldn’t leave my kids there anyway because it’s not a daycare…it’s basically a holding place for the hour you go work out and come back. So I wouldn’t leave my kids there much less a special needs child. Mom should know that…if they don’t give a crap about regular kids why would you think they’d care about an autistic child who needs more TLC…c’mon mom don’t make this the gym problem it’s on you girl…you need to make other arrangements for your child….any child not just a special needs child.

  18. Fab on January 24, 2021 at 2:04 am

    It seems this mother wants to have her cake and eat it too. She wants to live a normal life and have her child treated like a normal kid, but at the same time gets offended when they do treat the kid like a normal kid. If the boy was misbehaving, whether or not he may be autistic, the mother would have been asked to leave the same way. So why is she whining that they discriminated her son when that treatment would’ve been the same for any kid who behaved that way? And seriously, what could you expect from a GYM?? It’s not a daycare center!! (by the way, this kid could not and should not be treated the same as others who are not autistic. He will always have different needs from others and treating him the same as the people who don’t have autism would do him more harm than good. Having autism does make you different from the kids who don’t, you have special needs that other kids don’t. Now, just because your kid has different needs, doesn’t mean that makes the child any less special or valuable. People can be different and that’s okay, as long as we are all loved the same.)

  19. JNG on January 25, 2021 at 6:07 am

    The norm for the child is special attention. The business accommodating the client with child care is a nice perk. The business is a gym. A lack of compassion, love, and understanding is not the issue. Mom should understand her special needs for her child are more than a gym can provide. The state strives for equality for all under normal circumstances. Should a blind man have a right to drive a motor vehicle? Should a narcissistic, delusional person be allowed to hold high office? Should a gym provide special care to a special child? Maybe.

    • Casandra on January 28, 2021 at 10:30 pm

      You are so ignorant

  20. Khrystal ruelas on January 28, 2021 at 12:22 pm

    I go there all the time an take my kids they are great!!! An if they couldn’t calm a child down w autism well best fit to do so is his mom no? I think this is cry out for publicity I hope no person ever gets this treatment it’s horrible but you also got understand not everyone is capable of caring for child special needs! If you want go gym best bet is leave him w some one he already knows trusts tht I capable of caring for him!!!!

  21. Karina on January 29, 2021 at 8:49 pm

    The report states her child was throwing himself and that pretty much is an injury liability that the staff isn’t responsible for. We all understand that autism awareness is important, but this just seems like a 5 minute walk of fame. If that child would’ve hurt himself, this post wouldn’t be about autism awareness, it would be about how Tru Fit is “hurting children”. What about the other children in the room, who are getting disrupted and put in danger by his tantrum? Doesn’t sound like much equality. Having an autistic child doesn’t give you any higher importance, than the other children and parents get. If you don’t wan’t to get “embarrassed” or “frustrated”, take the child to a professional care service that is trained and certified to work with autistic children. Tru Fit is a gym with a babysitting service that HAS RULES, not a professional day care.

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