Out at the shops - Summary

Out at the shops summary
Taheera Khan

Date: 05/05/23

Deborah shared her experience at the supermarket in a series of co-produced animations, showcasing what it can be like for her autistic son in a shopping environment. We gained an insight into her lived experience as an autistic parent and her son’s experience as an autistic individual with sensory processing differences.

For a lot of people, a supermarket setting can be navigated without any challenge. However, for others, it can be a real struggle. For example, some autistic people with sensory sensitivities find the experience distressing. With noise from every direction, various smells and bright lights, it can quickly become overwhelming and lead to sensory overload.

Deborah’s son struggled to cope with the sensory stimuli, which resulted in a ‘meltdown’ - and the public reaction wasn’t so kind. Thankfully, with the support of her family and a kind word from a stranger, she was able to manage the situation safely.

How can we be an autism ally?

In that moment, stares from spectators added to the pressure and their family’s feelings of fear and anxiety. In a difficult situation, negative reactions from the public can cause further distress.

It’s important to show some empathy – Deborah was worried enough for her son, and the judgement didn’t help. Taking the time to recognise their challenges and reach out with support is a better alternative to being a spectator.

By making the effort to understand the feelings of others, we can show our support and make it that bit easier for someone who is struggling.

Thanking our hidden heroes…

A kind gentleman’s simple words of concern made an enormous difference. It was a comforting reminder that people do care and that she isn’t alone. Asking Deborah if she was OK and offering a helping hand provided the reassurance she needed to manage the situation.

He didn’t jump to any conclusions or make assumptions, instead choosing to be compassionate. The simple act of kindness left a long-lasting impression on their family and serves as an important example of the wonderful ways you can create positive change.

Deborah said, “A random stranger coming up and asking if everything’s okay…just reassured me, made things feel a bit more manageable. And I’d like to thank that man…He really did show me that people do care.”

A huge thank you to Deborah and her children for sharing their perspectives and supporting our campaign to drive greater autism acceptance and allyship.

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