When Shops Fail Customers With Autism

Yesterday, I went to a well-known computer shop to pick up my son’s laptop after it had been away for a week being repaired. Sending emails over the period of the laptop being away, I was determined to make sure that the hundreds of pictures, strategies and projects Jon had been working on were safely backed up. After all, we had taken out a care policy to ensure that if anything went wrong, all of Jon’s things were safe.

Jon loves his gaming. He makes friends all over the world (a part of building his social skills, he finds this the best way to find friends.) He plays team games for hours on end and they discuss lots of things like life, music, films and hobbies.

I have always been smart when it comes to dealing with companies and shops. Every time something has had to go back either for repair or a refund, I have carefully kept letters, conversations, names of people I have spoken to and so on, just in case. This was another one of those times when I was glad I had stored up all my correspondence.

Jon readily and willingly trusts everyone. I am cautious.

The shop in question had wiped Jon’s computer clean, despite my correspondence making sure that it wouldn’t happen.

Now, of course I have complained formally and the case is now being looking over by the company, so as far as my neuro-typical brain is concerned, that’s job done and very little else I could do.

For Jon, it was a catastrophe. Two and a half years of hundreds of pictures of games, projects, things he had made, contacts, all gone.

Driving home to break the news to Jon was something I was dreading. I knew it would be bad. I knew there would be a meltdown and it would against me. Jon doesn’t understand that these things happen and no matter how careful you might be in life, there will always be people who will make mistakes and let you down. It’s a fact of life. For Jon, it means war.

The Meltdown

The meltdown which ensued was pretty violent. Things were thrown, smashed up, it took about an hour of me trying to calm him down to a point where I could talk to him rationally. I had things thrown at me, books ripped up, a bedroom trashed. Jon shouted out all sorts of nasty things, swearing and cursing until he was quite blue in the face. By the evening, I had managed to get him to start laughing at a book I was showing him. I took his mind off the world which as far as he was concerned, had crashed down around him.  He went to bed calm and in a better frame of mind. By 2am, he was crying, wailing and sitting in the middle of his bedroom floor with his bed-things thrown across the room. Wide awake and crying.

I soothe him with a story and a cuddle and the night is returned to its peaceful slumber once more.

So what is the point of this rant this morning? An autistic boy doesn’t understand what had happened to his laptop, so?

I shall tell you why.

Companies are failing. Not just us anyway by not doing things right, but they are failing another part of society. They fail to realise the impact that such a ‘minor’ mistake, as far as they’re concerned, has on someone with special needs.

A person with Autism feels every bump in the road of life 1000 times more than anyone else. They don’t have the capacity to understand that bad things happen. All they see is the world they love turning its back on them, casting them into a dark pit of nothingness. The world is failing to care and so therefore it should be destroyed in some way, and made to feel as bad as they do. Jon sees every hiccup as a personal vendetta against him.

What I would like companies, shops and other organisations to do is stop and think about the impact that their carelessness might have on the customer.  I don’t like to play the ‘Autism card’ when it comes to complaining to people like this computer shop as I feel that doesn’t work, but more to the point, they are not really bothered about who is on the receiving end of their mistake. However, I do think their management teams need to consider the impact of their actions on the section of society who struggle with life as it is anyway, let alone other people’s failings.

1 in a 100 children in the UK are on the spectrum. That’s a lot of future customers.

So all I am asking shops to do is just stop and think the next time you think to yourself, ‘can I be bothered to do this properly?’

The answer is, yes, you can, because you might be stepping on someone’s world if you don’t.

Keep safe and happy everyone.


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Posted by: Michelle Hatcher on

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