A mother has berated B&M after she claimed her autistic son was “kicked out of the store”.
Natalie Birks says she is now boycotting the particular branch after leaving the store in tears and not finishing her store following the incident with son Brandon.
The 33-year-old from Bentilee, Stoke-on-Trent, says the incident involving 15-year-old Brandon on September 17.
“We walked in and first we walked to the lava lamps he wanted,” Natalie explained to Stoke-on-Trent Live.
“There was a huge sign on these lamps that said ‘please try me’. He went to touch one of them to show me how it works and this woman yelled ‘don’t touch that’.
“He was confused and said ‘why’. She said ‘because I said it’. I was like okay, fair enough.”
She added: “I asked him ‘is that the one you want?’. He said ‘yes’ and he put it in the trolley. We went to walk to the toy aisle, but we didn’t make it to that aisle because a worker came running up to us and told my son ‘you have to leave now’.
“I said ‘what has he done?’ and they said he was trying to touch things I said he has autism.
“When he gets excited he claps his hands. He doesn’t understand much and was confused when asked to leave. I said he couldn’t leave alone because of his autism and he wouldn’t know where to go He would eventually get run over.
“They said we should all leave.”
Natalie said, “In my eyes, he didn’t do anything wrong. All he did was touch a lava lamp.”
She has since filed a complaint with B&M after alleging that the Longton store employee also accused her son of “trying to steal” – a claim she completely refutes.
The mother of three added: “I was upset and crying. He was more confused than anything. He went in thinking he was going to figure some things out and he came out with nothing. One of the ladies working there was sweet. She came to us and made sure we were okay.
“He has autism, so touching things is the only way he can tell me he wants them. Everyone touches things. How are you supposed to choose something if you can’t touch it?
“Autism is completely different for everyone. It feels like he is being discriminated against because he has autism and because he is who he is. I have complained to customer service.
“He wasn’t wearing his jacket, he was holding his iPad in one hand and trying to touch a lava lamp with the other; he wouldn’t know how to steal.
“I’m not going to that branch. It’s not fair that my son feels like a victim. We were only there three minutes before we were kicked out. You can’t always see disabled people.”
StokeonTrentLive says he has repeatedly tried to get a statement from B&M about Natalie’s complaint.