Mother fights back after disabled child is told to 'shut up' on flight

Nicola Colenso with partner Rick Murray and daughter Yasmin. Photo: Nicola Colenso/Facebook
Nicola Colenso with partner Rick Murray and daughter Yasmin. Photo: Nicola Colenso/Facebook

The mother of an 8-year-old disabled girl has shamed a fellow air passenger on Facebook for yelling 'shut that child up!' after her daughter had "a meltdown".

Nicola Colenso criticised the "abusive" woman, who she said made her distressed daughter Yasmin even more anxious on a Jet2 flight from Ibiza to Manchester.

The woman, who was in her mid-20s, then allegedly called Ms Colenso's partner Rick Murray a "p****" for not keeping his daughter quiet, the Daily Mail reported.

He and Ms Colenso were trying to calm the schoolgirl down and reassure her when the row broke out. The woman is said to have complained that her "beauty sleep" had been interrupted.

Yasmin, who suffers from Sturge-Weber syndrome - a rare condition affecting the skin, brain and eyes - later had to be taken to hospital, her mother said.

In a Facebook post, backed by thousands of people, Ms Colenso, from Northwich, Cheshire, Uk, said she tried to explain Yasmin's situation to the woman "very politely".
She then suggested the woman ask staff if she could be moved.

The woman allegedly replied that she was "sick of the noise" and demanded Ms Colenso and her partner "just shut her up".

In the post, Ms Colenso told the woman: 'You continued to be abusive and publicly called her daddy a "p****" in front of her and her other three siblings.

"Your behaviour and outburst was not helpful whatsoever in helping to calm down our daughter's anxiety.

"I hope social media helps find you to let you know that same little eight-year-old girl ended up being taken to hospital by ambulance that evening as she became seriously unwell.

"Maybe you managed to get a good night's sleep?"

Yasmin was later taken to hospital after suffering "severe seizures", her mother said.
Ms Colenso said today: "We were really shocked by the way she spoke to us. It was horrible.

"It was clear to anyone who looked that something wasn't right with Yasmin.

"But even after explaining it to her calmly and politely, she gave no consideration to this.

"The only thing she seemed to care about was that she could hear what was going on.

"We remained calm and didn't react to what she said as keeping Yasmin calm was our priority and we just wanted to get her home.

"But afterwards I really wanted to raise awareness so it doesn't happen to others who are in the same situation.

"I want people to think twice when they see someone in this situation. Not all disabilities are visible so they shouldn't just presume.

"They don't have to deal with it like this. They could offer support. I know of someone in a similar situation where the family in front played peekaboo and it calmed the child down a lot.

"This woman didn't have to do that, but she certainly didn't have to kick off."

Ms Colenso's Facebook post, which included a picture of the woman allegedly involved in the row, has been shared by 52,000 people. Scores of them criticised the woman's "ignorance" and "insensitivity".

Ti Rexy wrote: "I hate it when people act like this. They seem to have forgotten they were once a child too.

"How on earth does she expect children to sit and be perfect when shut inside a tin can when she can't do it herself as a grown up?"

Carol Danby said: "Some really horrid people out there. Very ignorant."

The family-of-six, which includes Yasmin's siblings Benji, 17, Harvey, 13, and Alfie, eight, had enjoyed 11 days in Ibiza along with Ms Colenso's parents.

She and her partner said Yasmin was cleared as "fit to fly" by her doctor and said they had alerted the airline staff to her conditions, which also include epilepsy, glaucoma and autism.

Yasmin's battle with Sturge-Weber syndrome has seen the little girl already go through more than 50 general anaesthetics.

In 2013 she underwent nine-hour brain surgery to disconnect her left temporal, parietal and occipital lobes in a bid to reduce her 200 seizures a day. Now she has around 11-12, mostly at night.

However during the two hour 20 minute flight from Ibiza Yasmin became distressed and noisy.

Despite Ms Colenso deliberately booking the back seats on the plane and positioning Yasmin in the far window seat with family members all around her, the noise travelled and the woman at the aisle in front overheard.

Ms Colenso claims the woman, who she believes was travelling alone, eventually turned around and shouted "will you shut that child up!".

Mr Murray apologised to her and said that Yasmin was struggling at that particular moment. But the woman allegedly said the noise had "gone on long enough and I'm sick of it. Can't you shut her up?"

He again explained his daughter's condition and said the couple were trying their best, but in response Ms Colenso says the woman insinuated she could do a better job.

Mr Murray then politely said that "if you feel you can do a better job at keeping her calm than us, then feel free to try".

It was then that the woman allegedly branded him a "p***", which was heard by all four of the couple's children.

Ms Colenso said: "We didn't retaliate at all. We didn't want to make Yasmin any more anxious than she already was so we left it but I took the picture of her as I was so shocked.

"We didn't alert any staff, we just focussed on Yasmin and got her off the plane in the end and home. So Jet2 never found out about it but they had been fantastic with us throughout the flight.

"But later that night she got worse and went limp and lifeless, her lips went blue. It was really scary. She was rushed to hospital in an ambulance.

"She has not been rushed to hospital like that since her operation in 2013 so it shows what she went through on Saturday was not normal.

"I couldn't believe how many people have shared my post. I think it shows how many people are affected by things like this.

"I have been contacted by hundreds of other parents who say they have had similar ordeals, most of them only recently.

"Many parents have even said they are due to travel soon and really worried about it.

"I just hope that by sharing what we experienced it might make people think before reacting like this."


Sturge-Weber syndrome is a condition affecting the skin, brain and eyes.

About 60 per cent of children with the syndrome have delayed developmental milestones and learning problems. This means they do not develop and acquire key skills at the same age as children without Sturge-Weber syndrome. This is more likely to happen in children who have the syndrome and epilepsy.

However, children vary enormously and so some with Sturge-Weber syndrome can have abilities within the normal range or have more delayed development.

Around 80 per cent of children with the syndrome have epilepsy and one third headaches or migraine-episodes.

Symptoms are a vascular birthmark caused by abnormal development of blood vessels in the skin and the possibility of associated seizures.

- Daily Mail

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