Our son MacKenzie has now not accessed school full time since summer due to anxiety and also the fact that the school was not the right educational place for him. It has been a rough time for a while with MacKenzie struggling to fit into a mainstream school with his autism and also vice versa the school struggling to meet MacKenzie’s needs. He has ended up with lots of anxieties and had psychosomatic pains for months. We are though now on a better journey to getting him the right educational setting and while he is not at school at the moment its a good time for MacKenzie to try and be happy again. This is where Marks & Spencer Food Hall in Burnley stepped in. MacKenzie loves routine and part of our weekly routine is a food shop on a Monday morning and one of our stops is Marks & Spencer’s food department. All the staff are always very helpful and friendly especially a member of staff called Sonny. MacKenzie is a very chatty and talkative young man, this can be an advantage and a disadvantage. A lot of people think that autism is where someone sits in a corner and doesn’t speak, this isn’t always the case. Some people with autism are very talkative and friendly but because they have autism they struggle with social rules and speak very literal. MacKenzie will talk to people he doesn’t know and when its not appropriate. He will be too over friendly, he may also give very personal information away to strangers and the main one he will tell you exactly what he thinks. Conversation can be difficult because he does take things very literally and i can find myself saying the wrongs things daily and then having to spend half an hour trying to explain something i just simply said to him.
Anyway back to Sonny at the food department, MacKenzie spotted him near the bread section and said that he would like to be his friend. Knowing that he was a member of staff and i had seen him a number of times before i said he could go and ask him with me. From then on Sunny and MacKenzie became friends and MacKenzie loves helping him with the shop decoration (MacKenzie’s words). MacKenzie is a very tidy young man at home and likes things in its place and in order…..so he loves ordering the shelves and checking labels are all front facing and presented beautifully. Sonny told MacKenzie a few weeks ago he is now part of the Marks and Spencer’s team and he has even got him his own badge. It has really uplifted him and give him a goal. MacKenzie was in such a dark place at the beginning of summer and he is still having his struggles, but a small thing like what the team have done at Marks and Spencer is such a big thing for us and MacKenzie…..you have given us hope and made our little boy happy. Acceptance and understanding……Thank you Marks & Spencer Burnley.