Edinburgh mum praises 'kind stranger' who helped as son had meltdown in shopping centre

An Edinburgh mum has praised a kind stranger who came to her aid as her autistic son experienced a meltdown in a busy shopping centre.

Marianne Kelly, 41, was with son Emilio, who is autistic, at The Gyle on May 26, when the eight-year-old went into "full meltdown" in one of the shops.

Marianne said she started to "panic" and was "physically struggling" to control her son, before one kind lady came over to help calm her down. She spoke of her relief when others offered their help.

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Speaking to Edinburgh Live, she said: "Emilio loves to shop and I think many people would think he was going through a bit of sensory overload but he is actually a sensory seeker. He isn't bothered by crowds or noises, but he does get overwhelmed.

"He wanted something out of Claire's and I said no which was my error. There was a massive struggle to get him out of the shop and he had a massive meltdown there.

"It went on for ages and then I managed to get him out and back to the car and then he legged right across the car back and back into Claire's.

"Lots of people had seen that I was physically struggling because I had to get him on the ground and try to keep him safe that way. A few people came up and asked if there was anything they could do. I was trying to wrestle the thing off him, and then one lady came over and helped us both calm down because I was obviously in a state by that point - I can't even remember what he wanted.

"She was so lovely and offered to buy him something to eat - she was just so kind to both of us".

Marianne added that the lady also had an autistic nephew, making it easier for her to understand what she was going through. She believes more awareness needs to be spread around children with additional needs and urges others to stop "looking and commenting" when they go through moments.

She said: "I am a solo parent so it was just so stressful. As he is getting bigger and older and faster, it really has a difficult point.

"We are kind of in lockdown a bit so we can sort of figure out a plan on how we are going to get him more support. Whenever someone gets what you’re going through, you feel so much more supported compared to someone who doesn’t get it. You can try and understand but unless you have a child with additional needs, you don’t really fully know what it's like.

"Emilio has a lot of unexpected behaviours so people looking or commenting on how he behaves, is something that I wish people would have a bit more understanding about.

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"Sometimes he is going to flap and spin, but he isn’t a bad child, he has just reached his window of intolerance so I think raising awareness around that would be amazing."