WASHINGTON, DC–Chanting, "We want McDonald's!" in relative unison, representatives of the American Association of Developmentally Disabled Adults held a press conference Monday to demand a trip to a D.C.-area McDonald's.
"For weeks, my clients have been pleading with relatives, social workers, and assisted-living aides for a group outing to McDonald's," said Allan Lefferts, a civil-rights lawyer representing the AADDA. "Yet time and time again, these requests have been brushed aside with dismissals like, 'Not now' and, 'Maybe next week, if you're good.' Well, these folks will not wait any longer. They will not 'settle down.'"
Lefferts' remarks were met with cheers and stomping feet from AADDA members, with several adding cries of "French fries!"
"At this point, my clients are in good spirits, excited about the prospect of this excursion," continued Lefferts, motioning to the squealing, clapping group beside him. "But all that could change if their demands are not met. They want to go to McDonald's as soon as possible–ideally next Monday, right after WCW Nitro wrestling."
According to Lefferts, under the terms of the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act, each AADDA member must be offered "the most integrated setting appropriate to his or her needs."
"A trip to McDonald's will expand these individuals' boundaries," Lefferts said. "It will provide them with the opportunity to interact with other community members, practice decision-making, and develop valuable money-handling skills. Even more significantly, it will–"
Lefferts was then interrupted by AADDA member Donny Hefkin's impromptu rendition of "You Get More For Your Money," a song featured in a current McDonald's commercial.
Switching to his best inside voice at Lefferts' request, the 33-year-old Hefkin stressed that he has been good lately and would not require outside funding for the excursion.
"I have my own money!" said Hefkin, removing a velcro Space Jam wallet from his fanny pack. "I'm gonna get a Happy Meal and a Big Mac! Yaay!"
Lefferts said AADDA members have more than earned the outing, noting that in the past three weeks, there has not been a single major incident of inappropriate behavior among them. As evidence, Lefferts held up a calendar labeled "Dennis R.'s Behavior" with a gold-foil star applied to each day in April. Lefferts added that even Cindy Weiler, 30, whose outbursts landed her in the time-out room five times this past March, has been perfect of late.
"These special guys and gals have been great lately, receiving consistently positive reports from their job coaches and coming up to the med counter with only one verbal cue," Lefferts said. "I must also point out that they made sure to finish all their chore-wheel tasks before asking for this McDonald's trip. My clients would not be making these demands if their work wasn't completed."
"The AADDA will no longer stand for the vague promises and weak excuses of their caregivers, who tell them they can go 'some other day' or that it is too late to schedule a metro-van pickup," said Lefferts, concluding the press conference. "We demand that this trip be put on the activity board for May. If it is not, people will start acting out–and that's a promise."
Lorraine Nichols, an aide at an assisted-living home for AADDA members, said she has made every effort to fit in a trip to McDonald's.
"I've tried, but I'm just so busy–I've got to figure out next month's schedule and fill out the grocery order because, yet again, the weekend shift failed to do it," Nichols said. "Maybe we can go to McDonald's sometime after the Spring Fling Picnic, but not now."
"Besides," Nichols continued, "I rented Ace Ventura. Doesn't everybody want to watch that? Sam can make popcorn."
Fellow aide Peggy Reid said the AADDA has not been entirely upfront about the McDonald's situation, neglecting to mention the low-fat/low-sodium diet required of the many AADDA members currently on the anti-seizure medication Depakote. Certain members, Reid said, have also glossed over recent excursions to other fast-food outlets.
"Ron [Goetz] and Stephen [Bass] may not have been to McDonald's lately, but I know their day-program rec director at New Horizons took them to KFC just last Friday," Reid said. "I think some certain young men have conveniently forgotten that fact when it came time to talk to the press."
When informed of Reid's remarks, Bass replied, "We want McNuggets! We want McNuggets!"