A viral Facebook post is re-enforcing a critical point: you don’t need to host an “autism-friendly” event to make shopping a pleasant experience for people on the autism spectrum.
Gem Salter and her husband recently took their 6-year-old son, River, to Clarks to buy a pair of shoes for school. She posted about her experience on the store’s Facebook page, and it quickly garnered attention. As a person with autism, shopping can be overwhelming for River. “Being autistic, he really struggles with crowds, long queues and noisy places,” his mom explained on Facebook. “I knew there was no way he would cope with that environment so I explained the situation to a member of staff.”
That staff member was Aaran Daniels, who, upon hearing of River’s sensory sensitivities, found a quiet place for the young boy to try on shoes. “Without hesitation, Aaran led us away from the noise and crowds to a staff room and placed a Do Not Disturb sign on the door,” Salter wrote. “He was very patient with River, who was anxious, and went and got lots of different shoes for him to try on.”
After the fitting, Daniels invited the Salter family to come back before opening hours for future shoe fittings. Daniels willingness to help their family was autism acceptance at its best, Salter said.
Since Salter’s post last week, thousands of people have commented, many sharing similar experiences. “Aaron is also the guy who helped get the right pair of school shoes for my daughter last week. She has Down syndrome and will say yes to any question so asking if a shoe is comfy or fits well just doesn’t work. It was really hard getting a good fit and Aaron was really patient and just kept trying pair after pair! Eventually we got some! A lovely guy & a credit to the store,” Sam Gee wrote.
You can read Salter’s full post below.
h/t Scary Mommy