Store’s small change has made huge difference for mum and autistic son

PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 April 2018

Stanley trying out the new shopping trolley at Exmouth's Salterton Road Tesco with his mum Natasha and members of staff. Picture by Susan Brown-Kirk

Stanley trying out the new shopping trolley at Exmouth's Salterton Road Tesco with his mum Natasha and members of staff. Picture by Susan Brown-Kirk

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The mum of a severely autistic child in Exmouth has welcomed new modified trolleys at her local Tesco - saying they will help people understand her son’s condition.

Stanley with his uncle Jack trying out one of the new modified shopping trolleys at the Salterton Road branch of Tesco. Picture: Susan Brown-Kirk.Stanley with his uncle Jack trying out one of the new modified shopping trolleys at the Salterton Road branch of Tesco. Picture: Susan Brown-Kirk.

Natasha Wiggins, 31, from Senate Court, Withycombe Raleigh, says she often endures negative reactions from people who assume her severely autistic son is simply ‘naughty’.

She said: “I have had people come up to me in Tesco and tell me to ‘shut him up’; I have got to have a hard skin.

“There have been times when I have been brought to tears with it and thought, ‘I don’t want to go out with him’.

“It could be the slightest thing and he can be quite violent towards me. He is non-verbal, so struggles to communicate, which is a big frustration.

“We get the looks from people, who we just ignore, but it does have an impact; people should see this is a child struggling here.”

Six-year-old Stanley suffers from a low-functioning severe autistic spectrum disorder, sensory processing, ADHD and sleeping difficulties.

His condition means he is prone to unpredictable, frustrated outbursts, sometimes even hitting and kicking his mum, but Natasha says people do not always recognise he has special needs.

On Natasha’s request, the staff at Exmouth’s Salterton Road Tesco branch made a small change that has made a big difference for her and Stanley.

Two new adapted shopping trolleys with five-point harnesses will mean the pair can finally go shopping in peace.

Natasha said she was ‘in tears’ when the trolleys arrived. But as well as helping her, she also believes they will help change the attitudes of others.

Natasha said: “It just makes it possible for us to do something this normal. People are going to look at these and see how it helps; the more things like this the better.

“I think it is great that it has created awareness; there’s not enough awareness about severe autism, where it really affects day to day life.”

Salterton Road Tesco’s community champion, and friend of Natasha, Susan Brown-Kirk, said it was ‘amazing’ the store was more inclusive.

The store’s former services manager, Lisa Atherton, said it was ‘an achievement’ to know Natasha could shop with Stanley without worrying.

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