A mum has issued a heartwarming thank you to “hero” Tesco staff for their support after her autistic toddler had a ‘meltdown’ in-store.
Josephine Smith-Mands, 41, said the supermarket workers were like “angels” throughout her three-year-old son Peter’s 40-minute episode.
Peter, who was diagnosed with special needs and sensory processing issues 16 months ago, went into “full meltdown mode”.
He began slapping himself, hitting his head against the trolley, screaming and throwing himself around on the floor.
The kindhearted Tesco workers tied Josephine’s hair back as she tried to calm the tot, carried her shopping home and stopped a gawking crowd gathering.
Afterwards, they left a bunch of flowers on her doorstep.
Josephine, of Cam, Glos., described the four workers and a young couple who helped her through the “scary” ordeal as “earth angels”.
The mum-of-three said: “Peter’s episode began simply by me putting a lavender plant into my trolley on the way into the store.
“This then resulted in screaming and him smacking himself. This is down to sensory issues that he has.
“The response from the staff was immediate. As soon as I got to the checkout Elaine, one of the customer service assistants, helped me as she could see I was struggling.
“She packed my shopping and she wheeled the trolley out into the front of the store and never wanted to leave me as Peter was now in full meltdown mode.”
Another member of staff, Teresa, then offered to take Josephine home in her car – but due to Peter’s condition that wasn’t an option.
The mum said: “These women stayed with me for another 10 minutes trying to help me in the best way they could as he was now violent and people were passing by.
“Even some were standing and watching – the worst thing to happen as it makes it worse.”
Two young people, called Harry and Rosalee carried her shopping back to her house up the hill.
Another Tesco worker, Sally, then ran to her house to switch off the oven, which she left on while cooking Peter’s tea because she thought she’d only be five minutes.
Josephine said: “There was a true community spirit as time went on. This happened for around 40 minutes, even though it can last for some time.
“I was given water as it was hot on this Sunday and as Peter was battling with me it made it worse.
“They even tied my hair back up as Peter was tearing and pulling at it.
“The staff kept back the crowd of spectators by asking them to kindly give Peter and myself space and to leave us be.
“They even called my husband who was in Bristol at the time to make him aware of the matter and through all of that when Peter eventually calmed.
“I was then walked along with Chris the security gentleman and they stayed with me to make sure I was okay until my husband arrived home.”
Josephine, who is married to David Mands, 43, an oil executive, is staggered by the kindness of the strangers who supported her through the “incredibly stressful time”.
“Even after all that, they left me some flowers on my doorstep,” she added.
“I want to thank the staff and also the young couple and for them to be seen by the rest of the community as true heroes because that is exactly what they are.
“It’s hard for someone to understand the struggles and obstacles you suffer as a mother to a child with special needs let alone his sensory needs.
“Many just see him as being a very naughty boy.
“However last Sunday I had the privilege of meeting six earth angels all in one place.”