Mum left ‘feeling like a criminal’ over store’s treatment of disabled son


One mum was left ‘feeling like a criminal’ after her local supermarket told her that her son was no longer allowed to enjoy a snack while they shopped unless she paid for it beforehand

Many parents took to the comments section to agree with the mum (stock image)

One mum left people divided after complaining about how a small supermarket had treated her son.

On Mumsnet, she told how she regularly visits the local store, which is a two-minute walk from her home, with her children.

But an issue recently arose – after a staff member told her that her son could no longer enjoy a drink and snack while they shopped unless it had been paid for before.

She wrote: “My son (5) enjoys accompanying me to the shop and his little routine is that he picks up a Fruit Shoot (takes the lid off) and sips on it, we then go to the ice cream freezer and he selects one , I remove the wrapper and hand the ice to him.

“I then place the wrapper in my basket and we continue on around the shop. When we get to the till I place all the items on the counter and pay.

“The cashiers always smile and offer to place the wrapper in the bin behind the tills. We have done this for at least 2 years. The staff are always friendly to my son and me and my daughter (8) too.”

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The mum left people divided (stock photo)
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But on a recent visit, the staff member told the 45-year-old mum that this would no longer be allowed in the future.

The mum then told the manager: “I said that my son was autistic and it was his routine. Dave said ‘That doesn’t matter, you still can’t be doing that’.

`”I then said ‘He’s 5, it’s not hurting anyone.’ Dave said: ‘It’s what the big boss man has said. I said ok, and we left the store with the items we had paid for.

“I went bright red and actually felt like a criminal.”

She added: “I’ll add that us shopping at this small supermarket has greatly helped my son with his social skills. He’s learned road safety on our walk there.

“He knows we have to queue up to pay. He’s able to walk around the shop with me without needing to hold my hand, he’s no longer a flight risk, FGS he even knows how to social distance in a queue from our outings to this wonderful shop.”

Asking for advice on whether she was acting unreasonably – people were divided.

One mum wrote: “We do this at Sainsbury’s and my kids don’t have autism. It just makes shopping easier with little ones. They sit and eat in the trolley and I shop.

“In the end, I pay [and I’ve] been doing it for 4 years, nobody cares. As you say it isn’t hurting. People are so precious about everything these days it’s getting absurd.”

Another commented: “Sorry but I think you’re being totally unreasonable here.

“It’s nice that the store has allowed you and your son to do this for two years but they’re not wrong for saying ‘Just to let you know, you can’t do that anymore.’

“Seems like he didn’t say anything in a rude way and maybe the manager doesn’t want to allow this anymore, who knows. I still don’t see what they’ve done wrong.”

A third added: “I always gave mine a packet of those baby crisps to get on with as they sat in the trolley and Tescos never complained.

“So I don’t think you are unreasonable in principle but if the shop is now saying no then I don’t think you can argue that this is your right.”

“I really don’t see the issue with allowing your children to eat something before paying for it at the till. I’ve done this countless times and will continue. It makes shopping with my children easier and I wouldn’t dream of not paying for all items consumed.

“As long as the supermarket gets their money, would it make a difference?” added another.

After reading all the feedback, the mum agreed that she had acted unreasonably.

She wrote: “Some very valid points. I think I was just embarrassed to have been approached on something I let become a bad habit. My son is recently diagnosed and it’s a learning curve and I’m still navigating it all.

“Of course, I see now this is a bad habit I’ve got us into and I will need to nip it in the bud or else I am doing a disservice to my son.

“How will he learn it is not acceptable behavior to eat prior to paying. He may have a little trouble getting used to the new shop routine, but he’s easygoing and will be fine after a [few] times of pre-paying!|

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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