Praise for Royston Aldi worker who helped mum of son with autism

Connor Thrussell, right, with his assistant manager James Mitchell who was very proud of him after h

Connor Thrussell, right, with his assistant manager James Mitchell who was very proud of him after he helped Charlotte Thomas with her son Jenson when he experienced difficulties due to his autism while out shopping at Royston's Aldi. Picture: Lindsey Eldridge - Credit: Archant

The parents of a four-year-old boy with autism have praised a young shop assistant who came to mum’s aid when her son was experiencing difficulty in Royston’s Aldi.

Jenson Westwood with his mum Charlotte and dad Ryan at their Meldreth home. Picture: Ryan Westwood

Jenson Westwood with his mum Charlotte and dad Ryan at their Meldreth home. Picture: Ryan Westwood - Credit: Archant

Jenson Westwood was shopping with his mum Charlotte Thomas at Royston's Aldi when his behaviour became unmanageable.

Charlotte told the Crow: "I find it really difficult to go out myself with Jenson, because he is only four but is so strong. He has severe autism, is non-verbal, has problems with sensory overload, severe anxiety and isn't aware of danger.

"I usually have to go out with my partner, but we were only going to get a couple of things. Jenson did not want to stay in his buggy so I was left trying to get my son out of the shop safely - leaving my shopping. We had only been in the shop five or 10 minutes and I had to abandon the shopping."

Connor Thrussell, 20, had just left working on the till and walked up an aisle to see Charlotte struggling with Jenson's behaviour - where he said there were lots of people around, but nobody had intervened.

Charlotte continued: "I called him and he came straight over to help. Because of Connor, I was able to get Jenson outside while he lifted the buggy out of the store. "I was so relieved, one person can make a whole lot of difference. It is really difficult when people stare and think my son is just badly behaved, but he has a hidden disability.

"I would say to anyone, if you see someone struggling don't be afraid to ask if they need help - don't just judge as taking these children to public places is hard enough."

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Jenson's dad Ryan Westwood, an electrician, said: "Jenson has been showing signs of his condition since he was 18 months old, and he was diagnosed at 2½ - at the time the doctors said his condition was 'not mild'.

"Jenson is our first baby, and we have had to change everything we hoped for him, and everything we expected our child to be able to do.

"There are quite often comments from people when we're out and it is difficult. It then becomes a situation where we don't take him out to do things.

"It should be about him learning, but if he has a bad experience we can feel like we can't do that again and it shouldn't be that way.

"What Connor did gives me hope that there are people out there that may help and not just look the other way when there's something they don't understand."

Charlotte posted about the incident and thanked Connor on the Royston Reporting Page on Facebook - it had more than 300 reactions in the first hour and now has more than 600 reactions and 77 comments, which she said was "amazing".

Connor, who has worked at Aldi since March and previously attended Greneway and Meridian schools, told the Crow: "I had no hesitation at all in helping Charlotte and Jenson.

"I could see she was stressed, and there were lots of people around. It really wasn't a problem and I would help anyone who needs it, 100 per cent.

"When I saw the messages on Facebook, I couldn't stop smiling - and still do every time I read it.

"My parents Robert and Johanna and my assistant manager James Mitchell - who was there on the day - are very proud.

"If you see someone struggling, I would say it's no problem asking if they need help because I like to think it has a ripple effect - and one day you might need the help."

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